“Far greater even than the loss of land, or the relentless coercion to surrender cultural traditions, the deaths of over six hundred children by the spring of 1864 were an unbearable tragedy. Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862, Dakota people are still struggling with the effects of this unimaginable loss.”
Among the Dakota, the Beloved Child ceremony marked the special, tender affection that parents felt toward a child whose life had been threatened. In this
moving book, author Diane Wilson explores the work of several modern Dakota people who are continuing to raise beloved children: Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan,
an artist and poet; Clifford Canku, a spiritual leader and language teacher; Alameda Rocha, a boarding school survivor; Harley and Sue Eagle, Canadian activists; and Delores Brunelle, an Ojibwe counselor. each of these humble but powerful people teaches children to believe in the “genius and brilliance” of Dakota culture as a way of surviving historical trauma.
Crucial to true healing, Wilson has learned, is a willingness to begin with yourself. Each of these people works to transform the effects of genocide, restoring a way of life that regards our beloved children as wakan, sacred.
Diane Wilson, director of Dream of Wild Health Farm, is the author of Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, which won a Minnesota Book award. She is a Mdewakanton descendent; her mother was enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation.