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.
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