TURTLE LUNG WOMAN'S GRANDDAUGHTER
In this "prequel" to her own growing-up story (Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood), Red Shirt lets readers listen in as her mother, Lone Woman, recounts her life and that of her grandmother, Turtle Lung Woman. With her fluid incorporation of her mother's Lakota phrases and songs, Red Shirt, a Yale professor of American studies and English, brings to life Lakota language, lore and history from the mid–19th century, "when things were still steeped in the old ways," to the mid–20th century, when "the world was changing daily." Details of Lakota life in South Dakota and Nebraska (such as the momentous adoption of canvas—rather than buffalo hide—moccasins) are etched with clarity, as are the consequences of larger historical forces. A medicine woman, Turtle Lung Woman lived among Crazy Horse, Red Cloud and Sitting Bull. She was 28 when the U.S. government forced the Lakota to move to a reservation in 1879, and she recalls hearing about Wounded Knee in 1890. Family marriages and births, Lakota standards of behavior, the practice of medicine women and "their own legends about how they came to be" mingle harmoniously in this dual memoir. Red Shirt does not lecture; rather, her vivid, simple prose turns the reader into a witness. "I was there and I remember," she writes, and readers will feel that way, too. (Apr. 18)
Forecast:Though the book is written for a general audience, women's studies scholars, anthropologists and ethnologists should be interested as well. Campus bookstores in Western states should stock up.