Ekalaka is the first town west of Camp Crook, the town upon which See Jane Run! and the rest of the Tipperary County Mystery series is based. I snickered when I first heard the town’s name because, I mean really, who names their town something that sounds like a cheerleading chant.
Ekalaka, Ekalaka, shish boom bah!
Someone mentioned that Ekalaka was named after an Indian princess. An interesting factoid to toss around, but that was all to a young college graduate who was pretty sure she knew everything. Before life broadened her lens and took her down a peg or two.
In June of 2007 a fellow writer, who had once lived in Ekalaka, and I visited the tiny western towns where we had once lived. We toured Ekalaka’s museum, which was amazing for a county seat which boasts a population of 369. The museum even has a complete stegosaurus skeleton. More on that in another post.
The exhibit about Ijkalaka Eagle Man, the town’s namesake, took the older and wiser me down a few more pegs. Like twenty. Or a hundred. Or a thousand. When I read the plaque under Ekalaka’s portrait, I thought of the changes she experienced–moving from a Native American upbringing to life on a ranch to her marriage.
How did she navigate those changes? What was it like to see her way of life obliterated? How did it feel to learn you were worth eight horses and a hundred pounds of sugar?
Those are questions I’d love to explore and answer in a novel. Maybe once the Tipperary County mysteries have run their course. The wonderful thing about fiction is that once the research about a time period and place is done, imagination and life experience can fill in the gaps. They can answer the question that’s niggled at me since I read the plaque in the museum: What it was about Ekalaka that led white settlers to name a town after her? In my book, that’s a question worth answering and a story worth writing.
Eklalaka. It’s a wonderful name for a town.
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