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Waterlily Paperback – August 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (August 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803265794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803265790
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Deloria was a Sioux Indian and an ethnologist who worked with anthropologist Franz Boas. Written in the early 1940s and now published for the first time, this culturally detailed novel of 19th century Sioux life focuses on a young girl named Waterlily. When her mother Blue Bird is deserted by her husband, she and her daughter are welcomed by relatives at their tiyospaye (encampment of related households) on the western plains. Deloria portrays Waterlily's maturation, daily tribal life and the crucial "kinship rules." As the author wrote elsewhere, the Sioux concept of kinship meant "achieving civility, good manners, and a sense of responsibility toward every individual dealt with." Waterlily learns she must show altruism and generosity, be courteous, demure and truthful, and highly value each family member. While this novel's plot is slight, Deloria clearly accomplished what was probably her true goalpresenting an authoritative, expertly researched account of Sioux beliefs, social conventions and ceremonies. As such, it is an absorbing document. Literary Guild alternate.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

$19.95. f "I have a mission: To make the Dakota people understandable, as human beings, to the white people who have to deal with them." That commitment, strengthened by more than 20 years of research with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, inspired Yankton Sioux ethnologist Deloria to write this novel, completed in 1944 but published only now. Set in Sioux country in the 19th century and beginning with a dramatic birth, it portrays intricate kinship rituals and the compelling minutiae of daily life. A richly female perspective balances traditional male values expressed in warfare and hunting. Intended as popular literature, the novel is an amalgam of meticulous research and enduring intimacies available only to outsiders. A captivating narrative, recommended for general as well as subject collections. Rhoda Carroll, Vermont Coll., Montpelier
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I enjoy reading books 'pre-contact.
Tawoma Martinez
This makes for a fast-paced book that shows in great detail a general, edenic version of Native American life before the European invasions and genocides.
Jennifer Smith
It is a beautiful story beautifully written, very insightful.
C. M. Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Smith VINE VOICE on December 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Waterlily is the story of two Sioux women, mother and daughter, and their relationships with their tribe and the larger world. Ms. Deloria's book is straightforward, with the negatives of Sioux life discussed quickly and without sentiment. Stories of tribal children being scalped or the inter-tribal warfare that goes on are almost treated as small ancillaries that do not affect the people. The main characters are described through their words and actions, more than through delving into their thoughts. This makes for a fast-paced book that shows in great detail a general, edenic version of Native American life before the European invasions and genocides. The Sioux are portrayed as brave, hardy people who live with an extensive tribal code of hospitality and interdependence. it is hard not to envy their "tiyospaye" in this disconnected, frenetic world and look with longing back to a slower, simpler time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I actually read this book as an assignment in a Native American literature course during my undergraduate studies. I have been not been more impacted by any other book. I found the vivid descriptions of Native American life, before white intrusion to be both exciting and depressing. I have a profound sense of loss by not being able to witness these events, before white influence. The descriptions of ceremony, daily life and the life of a woman in the time before my ancestors arrived here, gave me a new understanding of current and past Native American culture. I recommend it to all.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
What an extraordinay book. I guarantee it is unlike any other you have read.
If I had written this review immediately after reading the book, I probably would have rated it slightly less. What I find now, two years later, is that I remember the details and impact of the book far more than any other I have read in recent years.
The author wrote it to share not only the tragic and the glorious, but also the mundane. Her intent, as an academic and as a Lakotah, was to leave us with a better understanding of the life of her people before and in the early stages of the white man's influence.
While the book was not "difficult" reading, I did have to suppress my expectation and desire for the book to follow the patterns of typical fiction. But as a result, when the book ended I had a more complete "relationship" with Waterlily. She was fascinating. I still think of her frequently.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kimimela on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a college class, and it remains one of the nearest and dearest to my heart out of all the works of fiction I've ever read. Deloria's writing style is both informative and beautifully simple, so much so that I find myself wanting more from her; I desperately wish she had written a sequel. I wish I could stay in the tiyospaye just a little bit longer.

I lack the words to adequately describe Waterlily, Blue Bird, Gloku, Rainbow, Lowanla, Sacred Horse, and the other members of the camp circle that have come to mean so much to me. All I can say is that you must experience it for yourself. A heads-up for those who are fans of the traditional historical fiction, though: it does not follow the usual patterns, in part because it is told entirely through the eyes of women. I have given it to several friends, including one male friend who considers himself quite the "manly man." He is halfway through it now and although he says he likes it so far, he grumbled extensively about the lack of battle scenes and "action."

In my opinion, however, that is a large part of the book's magic: it is not written simply to please the action junkie. Walk into any bookstore and you will find shelves and shelves of westerns boasting all the gunfights, tomahawks, and scalpings you could wish for. Too often the plains are depicted as a stage for masculine adventures while women are relegated to the usual roles of Wife, Mother, Captive, Prostitute, and (my personal favorite) Helpless Heroine Who Stands By and Screams While the Hero Gallantly Rescues Her. Maybe a baby is born or crops are planted or someone binds a wound with a piece of her petticoat, but women are by and large just filler.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. B. on January 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Waterlily is a novel about the life of the Dakotas (Sioux) written by a Sioux and set in a time when there was little, and in most cases, no interaction with white people. A well-written, novel from a woman's point of view, the story begins with Waterlily's birth. The birthpangs began while the people were moving, the sun hot , the mother astride a horse. When she can endure it no longer, Blue Bird hands her horse's reins to her mother-in-law, dismounts and steps out of line. No one comes to her aid and so she delivers her first child alone. This seemed unnecessarily harsh to me and I could see no reason for it, even though it is sort of explained through the thoughts of others. I felt somewhat better when Blue Bird with the infant, Waterlily, rejoins the line of moving people and her cousin offers her sancuary and lets her ride on a travois to the next camp site. The story follows Blue Bird's life and then Waterlily's until the girl is grown, married, widowed, and married again, all within a short span of time. The real strength of the novel lies in showing us the society of those long ago people, from how they disciplined their children (very gently and shocked when they saw whites hitting their children) to where the visitor sits in the tepee. How the girl children are trained to be modest and the boys to ride and hunt, making a very marked distinction between the sexes. There is some mention of raiding tribes and once, the warriors go after a tribe who had attacked them, killing two of their children and kidnapping another. The tribe's ceremonies are interesting and include among others: the Ghostkeeping ritual, the Sun Dance, the Virgin's Fire, a ceremony that only virgins could attend and was held to restore the honor of one of their members wrongly accused.Read more ›
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