James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

James Giago Davies: Enjoying the freedom to think out loud and put it into print

Thinking out loud put into print

By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Columnist

It has taken several years to compile over three hundred Iyeska Journals and sports columns, usually written in just under an hour in a variety of places: most at home, a dozen or so at the newspaper, a few staying with a friend or relative, some in hotel and motel rooms, hotel lobbies, public libraries, at city park picnic tables, in the hospitality room of a sports arena, in the front seat of the car, in the back seat of the car, and even a couple sitting high up on a rocky ledge, looking far out across the Black Hills and the distant prairie.

In the beginning, these columns started at about 1,500 words, before I had sharpened my skills enough to say more with less. Most undergo little revision, and when proof reading fails, contain embarrassing mistakes, that uncharitable readers, lacking the wherewithal to have ever written such themselves, are loathe to overlook.

There are dozens of columns, some of them my favorites, which have never seen print, for one reason or another. Sometimes they get too maudlin, sometimes they digress beyond the scope of the readership, sometimes they get too personal, and sometimes they are sure to offend too many people, rattle too many rat cages.

Tim Giago has always held back his editor’s pen, save to add something which improved the column, like the name of a long forgotten relative, or the actual sequence of poorly recalled ancient histories. No other newspaper would allow me carte blanche the way he does, no other paper would grasp the Lakota perspective, would honor the Lakota sense of propriety over Wasicu sensibilities, and this is why you do not see my columns in such papers, even though it is obvious they have no columnists who can consistently write at my level.

That kind of unabashed arrogance ruffles some feathers, but any writer should reach the point, where he is trusted enough, has been circumspect enough, that what he writes minimizes conventional contrivance, and is an act of spontaneous sharing. The best columns are actually thinking-out-loud put into print.

Writing columns can make you friends, not just locally, and not just with people who are sympathetic to Lakota perspectives, or even agree with what is written. One of my favorite columnists to read was George Will, even though I did not like his brand of arrogance, at such variance with my own, or agree with much of what he wrote, I just loved the way he wrote.

Most of my columns were written just before dawn, sitting in a recliner or at the living room table, clacking into a Mac, the illuminated keys allowing me to write in the dark. I only write this way with columns, because with anything else, I have a stack of reference material which requires light.

There are not too many knocks at the door at 4 a.m., which is good, because I wrote sitting in my boxer shorts, my dog Nate curled up near enough his body heat warmed my leg and foot. Sometimes the cat decided to walk across the keyboard, or station herself between my face and the screen. Rather than trouble to remove her, that was always a good time to take a snack or potty break.


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Thinking out loud put into print

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James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at skindiesel@msn.com