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The Historical Conflict

Ross Davis
Ross Davis Author Interview

Friendship’s Gallop follows two boys who’s friendship is tested when the Cavalry attempts to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for the setup was largely the historical conflict between Indians and non-Indians in America, especially back in the 1800s, such as the battles of Wounded Knee and the Little Bighorn, forced assimilation of Indians in Christian missionary schools, and so on. (Aside from such unfortunate conflict, there’s been instances of cooperation, such as the Navajo code talkers of World War 2, and the contributions of Indian performing and fine artists to American culture up to the present.)

Another inspiration was my experience living in South Dakota for a couple of years, where I befriended Indians from the Sioux tribes out there. Considering the potential to look beyond one’s own race or culture, despite the differences with someone else’s, there nevertheless exists a cultural universal—friendship. And a basis for this is that we’re all ultimately of one race—the human race.

The setup was initially written to be more benign, where David would first meet up with Painting Horse and Red Owl under friendly terms. Yet revising the setup to be more dramatic, involving a physical confrontation based on a misunderstanding, provided more of a basis or contrast from which to develop the story further.

Your characters are interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

A precursor to driving ideals behind the development of David’s or Painting Horse’s character was the innocence of youth: David and Painting Horse first met when they were in their early teens, when they were still somewhat in their formative years, and not so entrenched in adult ways—good or bad–of their respective cultures. This allowed for some flexibility in developing a friendship at that age despite coming from different cultures.

Beyond that, some of the driving ideals behind each character’s development, especially while they were in their teens, were that David and Painting Horse would likely still be trying to have fun as kids or young adults, while also trying to survive the more primitive life back then out on the American frontier. Painting Horse and David were essentially two main protagonists in the story, versus a customary tendency to have just one main one. It allowed for more intricacy in the story. While their friendship was a way to show commonality, their differing cultures was a way to show contrast. To give more nuance, Painting Horse was intended to be somewhat more stoic than David, given he contended with greater challenges later in the story.

The element of music entered into the story as a common way for the characters to communicate and bond, by performing their instruments together (music—“the universal language”).

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Some of the important themes that I wanted to explore in the book was of course friendship, in addition to courage, culture, and history. I wanted to explore the potential to maintain a friendship even under life-threatening conditions that can potentially pit two friends against each other. That’s where courage and culture comes in: How much courage it takes to overcome the risks of being stigmatized or more if one goes counter-culture to sustain a friendship if it’s really important to do so. And it becomes more of a test as David and Painting Horse meet up years later as adults, when they become more entrenched in their ways relative to their own cultures. And going back in history makes the story more interesting in an exotic yet still down to earth way: Back then it wasn’t the majesty of driving a new SUV, but rather riding a capable horse, which of course was a historical fact of everyday life back in the late 1800s. The story is loosely based on historical fact, so it also can be sort of a lesson in American history.

Ultimately, while the book invokes history involving Indians and non-Indians in the American West in the late 1800s, hopefully a reader can appreciate the themes such that they can also apply to the more recent past or even today.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I don’t have a next book in the works at the moment, as far as fiction. It’s conceivable that Friendship’s Gallop could be expanded beyond a short story to something approaching a full-length novel; it depends in part on the level of reader interest in an expanded version.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

A homesteader’s son and a Lakota Indian boy become steadfast friends
through music, horsemanship, and simple adventure. However, their friendship is ultimately tested as they are forced to choose sides amid the Cavalry’s attempt to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier.

Friendship’s Gallop

Friendship's Gallop by [Ross Davis]

Friendship’s Gallop by Ross Davis is  a riveting work of fiction stemming from the conflicts and resolutions between Indians and Caucasian Americans. This story instantly pulled me in from the beginning. David, who was the young son of a settler, hunted on the grounds of an Indian tribe and later learned the ways of the tribe. Although he was a young boy, he understood the meaning of Indian culture. During his stay, at their encampment he gained valuable friendships and a new respect for the culture. One of the most heartwarming gestures in this story is the trade off between David and Painting Horse. David giving up one of his mother’s gifts was a gesture of genuine friendship.

I love how Ross Davis captured many positive aspects of Indian people. Having knowledge about tribes and cultures made this novel more enjoyable and feel more authentic. I also felt like the small details created a wider lens from which to view many problems we face to this day. The tribe felt a certain way about Calvary men and vice versa. Towards the end of the trail they reached a better understanding of each other. Unfortunately the war in the story caused collateral damage to both participants. I was happy that David never forgot the kind gestures the Lakota have shared with him. Using his knowledge, he was able to share the goodness of the Lakota people. I was expecting David to turn heartless, but instead he became inspirational. I really enjoyed the stirring character development throughout this adventurous historical fiction novel.

I would give Friendship’s Gallop by Ross Davis 5 out of 5 stars because I remained engaged throughout the entire story and the moral was powerful. I was intrigued by the exotic culture and wanted to learn more as the author added key pieces that contributed to the diversity and unity of the tribes and settlers. The author also did a phenomenal job wrapping up the story with another heartwarming moment between David and Painting Horse.

Pages: 72 | ASIN: B08FPCKPZ2

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