Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy

Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy

Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy

Aurelia: A Crow Creek Trilogy


The first novella in this collection, 'From the River's Edge' is the story of John Tatekeya's efforts to obtain reparation in a white man's court for forty-five head of stolen cattle. Even as Tatekeya's trial is proceeding, his people are suffering from the flooding of the Missouri River, an event precipitated by the construction of new hydropower dams upriver from the Crow Creek Reservation. In 'Circle of Dancers', Cook-Lynn follows Aurelia Blue, John Tatekeya's lover of nearly ten years. She is pregnant and must decide about both the baby and the father, Jason Big Pipe, even as she struggles with her own identity as a Dakota Sioux woman. As the story progresses, she and Jason fight for survival in the face of the further political and economic consequences of the destruction of the Mni Sosa, one of the greatest environmental disasters to strike the Northern Plains. In the final volume, 'In the Presence of River Gods', Aurelia, now the mother of two, leaves Jason and moves with her dying grandmother to Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, two hundred miles away from Crow Creek.


Seeing the Missouri River country of the Sioux is like seeing where the earth first recognized humanity and where it came to possess a kind of unique internal coherence about that condition.

As you look you think you see old women leaving marked trails in the tall burnt grass as they carry firewood on their backs from the river, and you think you hear the songs they sang to grandchildren, and you feel transformed into the past. But then, winter comes. The earth freezes solid. And you wish for July and the ripe plums and the sun on your eyelids.

One August day I stood on a hill with Big Pipe and watched the flooding waters of the Missouri River Power Project unleash the river’s power from banks which had held it and guided it since before any white man was seen in this country. As old Pipe grieved, the water covered the trees of a timber stand which had nourished a people for all generations, and it took twenty years for those trees to die, their skeletons still and white. It took much less time for the snakes and small animals to disappear. Today, old Pipe has a hard time finding the root which cures his toothache, and he tells everyone that it is the white man’s determination to change the river which accounts for the destruction of all life’s forms.

When you look east from Big Pipe’s place you see Fort George; you look south and see Iron Nation, and you sense a kind of hollowness in the endless distance of the river span, at odds, somehow, with the immediacy of the steel REA towers stalking up and down prairie hills. Yet, as your fingertips touch the slick leaves of the milkweed and roll the juicy leaves together . . .

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