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The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge: A Lakota Odyssey Hardcover – April 19, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam; 1st edition (April 19, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399140107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399140105
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From his nursing home in South Dakota, 96-year-old Guy Dull Knife Sr., the oldest surviving member of the Dull Knife family to be profiled in this fascinating Sioux (also known as Lakota) history, says, "I was born in 1899 in a log house, but my father was born in a tipi.... The tipi was in the shape of a circle and in the middle of the tipi there was always a campfire. This, too, was in the shape of a circle. In the summers, when the Sioux from all over the Dakotas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana would gather for the Sun Dance, the tipis in the villages would always be arranged in a circle. The circle was our symbol. It was a holy symbol that helped to remind us that we were connected to everything else." In the tradition of Native American storytelling, many of the tales in this five-generation odyssey have been passed down from father to son through word of mouth. Joe Starita, an award-winning investigative journalist, fills in the gaps with more than a century's worth of family documents and archival historical material.

In the latter part of the 19th century, Chief Dull Knife led his followers through some of the most brutal and ruthless battles between the white man and the Indians. His son George Dull Knife settled into reservation life and went on to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. From his nursing home, George's son, Guy Dull Knife Sr., the sole living Sioux World War I veteran, retells the tales of his youth and family history in his native Lakota tongue. His son Guy Dull Knife Jr., a Vietnam vet and self-taught sculptor, is trying to keep the ways of his native people alive for his children and future generations. Although Sioux women are said to have played important roles in the survival of tribal traditions and culture, this volume primarily focuses on the male members of not only the Dull Knife family, but the tribe to which they are inextricably tied.

From Publishers Weekly

Much of the proud and painful history of Native Americans involves Lakota chiefs like Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, and conflicts in both the distant and recent past at Wounded Knee. Former Miami Herald reporter Starita sensitively illuminates Lakota history through one remarkable family. Dominating the book is patriarch Guy Dull Knife Sr., born in 1899 and revered as the oldest living member of his people. Guy's forebears endured displacement, government deception and war; once enclosed on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, they endured the suppression of their language, culture and religion. Guy's relatives told him of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre; his father toured Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, removed from his people's problems. Guy's own story begins about halfway through the book; it includes cultural resistance to assimilation, service in WWI, marriage to a staunch woman and politics at Pine Ridge. His son, Guy Dull Knife Jr., grew up with rock 'n' roll and endured Vietnam, returning to find himself involved in even more danger: the American Indian Movement's battle against corrupt leadership at the reservation. Now Guy Jr. sculpts statues that reflect his people's history and culture. A memorable American story. Photos. BOMC and History Book Club selections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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An outstanding narrative, exceptionally well written.
David Clements
The Lakota, like all Native Americans, were caught in the buzz saw of Manifest Destiny.
nto62
I can only say, if you can read and have a heart this book will touch it.
limey52@aol.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David M. Sapadin on August 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
From the perspective of two generations of Dull Knifes (Guy Sr. and Jr.) the reader is given a 5-generation perspective on just about every important challenge faced by the Lakota/Oglala Sioux and Northern Cheyenne. There is more impact in reading this story than from reading a history book because these are real people telling their real stories which keeps within the Indian tradition of oral history. Most important, is the theme of resistance/persistence which runs throughout this history into the present day, emphasized by the obvious - 5 generations of Dull Knifes and still going. Highly recommended.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Munir on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I would never have read this book had I not been assigned a project dealing with Chief Dull Knife's death march from Indian Territory. I picked it up and got plenty of information about that historical event. Reading on, I discovered a great deal more.
In addition to tracing four generations of Dull Knifes, this book is one of the most comprehensive and attractive histories of the Lakota people ever. It covers almost everything -from the battle of the Little Big Horn to the upsurge of Indian pride following the siege of Wounded Knee. Though I had read bits and pieces about them before, I was able to form a more integrated picture of the Sioux after reading this book. Often suppressed and today among the poorest groups in America, the Lakotas have held onto and passed down the beauty and resilience of their culture- like the Dull Knife who wore a medicine bundle into Vietnam and Sioux women favoring herbs and blossoms over shampoo. This spirit even shows in the narrative's fresh, confident feel.
The book also offers a glimpse at the personality of Dewey Beard, the last survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, who died in 1959 and was a friend of the Dull Knife family.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book had me glued to it's pages .I was raised by a Lakota and this book reflects on the state of native americans in this country today and backs it up with the history to explain why.A must read if you want to "get inside" what has REALLY happened in this country to a race of people who almost were completely exterminated because of their advanced social ideals colliding with the morally bankrupt european "civilization" which at the time was barely out of the dark ages so much so in fact that when the colonists revolted they spouted Iroquois political ideals which were and still are more advanced than any idea the european mind has ever had .
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I read this book right after it was published. The patriarch in the nursing home, diligently preparing for his family's visit was neither overly sentimental nor written with the sort of political correctness one finds so often in this type of story. I found the story of this family to be absorbing. These people are tough as rocks, wonderfully artistic, incredibly brave, and amazingly realistic about their lives. This history struck me as very honest and sincere.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By limey52@aol.com on July 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
I had just come back from the Veterans Powwow at the Pine Ridge Reservation and because of the fantastic treatment I received there decided to read up on the Oglala Lakota Sioux, after all the amount I knew about the Oglala could be fit in a thimble. From the minute I picked up the Dull Knifes book I was hooked. The book flows as will the tears. You will find out about the Wounded Knee Massacre and the way the Oglala were treated by the whites and the government.And this all done with dignity, no crying or griping done. You will see how this fine AMERICAN family perservered. You will find out about the Northern Cheyenne as well as the Oglala. I can only say, if you can read and have a heart this book will touch it. And thats from a mixed blood Mi'kmaq.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Claudine Johnson on January 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
An engaging story of one family of the Lakota (Sioux) from the time the treaty was signed creating Indian reservations to the present. In each generation one or more of the family members are presented in reasonable detail. See the hopes, challenges, and triumphs of each generation and get to know and love them as they attempt to hold onto important aspects of their native culture while they step into modern life with mixed successes. You'll gain an appreciation of the dedicated military service many Indians have given the U.S., and perhaps you'll twitch uncomfortably or maybe grin at the soldier who collected ears from his battlefield conquests. In total I gained a new respect of the Lakota.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sun Set on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have read countless family sagas and this is one of the best! I am surprised this novel did not receive more credit. Also liked the vintage photos and quotes.
It begins with Chief Dull Knife, legendary leader of the northern Cheyenne, and tells of his time during the 600 mile Cheyenne Long Walk which absolutely brought me to tears. This section covers many of the Cheyenne and Lakota battles as well as Custer and Fetterman, and on into Wounded Knee. There are intriguing stories about Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and many others.
The saga also covers Dull Knife's children and grandchildren who settled on the Pine Ridge rez or Lakota nation. George Dull Knife toured Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody and I loved the funny tales; the Sioux ride their first and last carnival ride, one warrior battles an ape, and the Lakota bet a buffalo can whip a royal bull. On the more serious side you learn the cruel truth about civilization; Indian schools, allotments, and how terrible life was and still is on the Pine Ridge Indian Rez.
Many of Dull Knife's grandchildren served in American wars such a World War 1 and Vietnam; the stories revealed here are interesting and it is sad many Native American war tales are overlooked in schools, books, and movies.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in history, Cheyenne and Lakota life, and family sagas. I found myself laughing at some of the stories but crying through many parts. The author really brought to life the hard ships the Cheyenne and Lakota faced but also the valiant pride these people long forgotten by many honored. It is really hard for someone now-a-days to understand and sad because pride is a thing of the past. Reading his work I could almost see brave warriors taking bullets so that their starving women and children might escape the soldier's cruelty.
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