Monday, July 5, 2010

Shifters Through History

By Pat Cunningham

With America’s birthday still fresh in mind, it got me thinking about the history of our secretive neighbors, the Shifter-Americans. With their elaborate clans, rituals and beliefs, they didn’t spring up overnight (except in writers’ minds, of course). They must have histories as long and rich as any ethnic group that journeyed here to the melting pot.

Some groups (deer, bears, coyotes, some of the wolf packs) are Native Americans. The rest would have come to the New World with the other European and Asian immigrants, and for the same reasons: opportunity, freedom, land of one’s one, and acres and acres of virgin woodland. They would be clannish and keep to themselves, like other ethnic populations. The cities would have their Shiftertowns, living just under the human radar. At the first chance they’d buy land and move to the country, away from human settlements.

(A note on African shifters: I’m sure individuals would have been captured in the slave trade, but not whole clans or tribes at once. I can’t imagine that happening. Picture if you will a slave ship captain about to make sail when suddenly half his “cargo” turns into leopards. Or lions. Or elephants. Who wants to write the shapeshifter version of “Roots”? Show of hands, please.)

Wary of humans, they would be the explorers of the frontier, pushing ever westward, away from civilization. They would be ranchers and cowboys. Humans won’t hunt you if you raise your own food. A ranch would provide perfect camouflage for a herd of werehorses as well. The solitary cougars and jaguars would be the fur trappers (eat the beaver, sell the skin), the Army scouts, the mountain men. Coyotes would flock to the gold fields, selling goods to the miners at inflated prices.

True to their animal heritage, they would love and respect their country. European wolves would have been loyalists during the Revolution (faithful to the “alpha”), but American wolves would have fought on the side of the rebels (defending their territory). I can picture horses fighting in the Civil War (bits, saddles, spurs and riders would put anybody off slavery). Refinements in Army physicals put an end to shapeshifter military service. The Viet Nam era saw a massive exodus of young shifter males to Canada. Not that they objected to the war; they just couldn’t risk a blood test. Deer would be conscientious objectors. I’m sure coyotes flocked to the hippie movement and protest marches, but if you ask them they’ll swear they were only in it for the music.

In short, the history of shapeshifters in America is the history of America itself. Somewhere out there The Great American Shapeshifter Historical Novel (or multi-book series) exists. If not, one of us better get on the stick. I want to see “North and South” with a werewolf regiment fighting at Gettysburg. Not “Gone with the Wind,” though. Scarlett was a vampire. But that’s a whole other blog.


Serena Shay said...

Awesome ideas, Pat. A North and South take with wolves would be cool, as would a vietnam story. How about a WWII story? Just think of how many lives our shifters could save there! ;)

Savanna Kougar said...

Wow! Talk about an epic shapeshifter series of novels. I'm in. North and South, one of my faves. Course, Duke, my black wolf shifter, his clan immigrated from Ireland, however, they have Atlantis beginnings, having been genetically created there.

On a personal note, I will have to defend Scarlett. She saved her sisters and Tara, plus survived the Civil War. Even with her flaws, she was the only one who the gumption and sheer determination to accomplish it.

Pat C. said...

Years back, when Margaret Mitchell's estate announced they were looking for a writer to pen the sequel to GWTW, I kept hoping they'd hire Stephen King. But then, I'm biased.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I guess you and Scarlett would have been at each other like cats and dogs.

Savanna Kougar said...

Geez, Google and Blogger are really messed up!!!
Just getting the previous comment to post was ridiculous.

Rebecca Murray said...

shape sifter elephants on a slave shipt!!! ROLFLMAO!!! Oh, my goodness! The metntal images that gave me... "Captain, I think we have a problem in the cargo hold..."