Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter

Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter

Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter

Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter


Told in their own words, Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter is the unforgettable story of several generations of Lakota women who grew up on the open plains of northern Nebraska and southern South Dakota. Delphine Red Shirt has delicately woven the life stories of her mother, Lone Woman, and Red Shirt's great-grandmother, Turtle Lung Woman, into a continuous narrative that succeeds triumphantly as a moving, epic saga of Lakota women from traditional times in the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Especially revealing are Turtle Lung Woman's relationship with her husband, Paints His Face with Clay, her healing practice as a medicine woman, Lone Woman's hardships and celebrations growing up in the early twentieth century, and many wonderful details of their domestic lives before and during the early reservation years.


My mother told me a story when I began to record her. She told me about Winúȟcala (Old Woman) Standing Soldier, a woman who lived near where my mother came to draw water from a hand pump each day. They both lived in a small town in Nebraska near the reservation.

My mother stopped in each day to see her. She would say hello and visit with her. She even took time to sweep her floors. Sometimes she would start soup in a pot for her. the old woman seemed to appreciate everything my mother did for her.

She was a relative, although not directly related to my mother. She was my father’s “thųwį́,” his aunt. She was the mother of Andrew Standing Soldier, who later in his life became known as an artist who depicted life among the Lakota. My father’s grandmother and Andrew’s grandmother were sisters. They were descendants of a man named Chief Lone Elk from the Brulé side of our family. Chief Lone Elk was the son-in-law of Battiste Good, also a Brulé, who kept an important winter count for our people.

My mother told me that Winúȟcala Standing Soldier was alone when she came to see her. She used to tell my mother, “Kiktápi na owį́ža kį onášloka na iyápi,” referring to her grandchildren, “They shed their bedcovers and are gone.” the old woman seemed lonely. My mother made it a point to visit the old woman, who perhaps reminded her of her grandmother, Turtle Lung Woman.

Winúȟcala Standing Soldier looked forward to her visits. One day my mother stopped going because she was busy with her life. When she resumed her visits a few days later, Old Woman Standing Soldier was happy beyond words. “Where have you been?” she asked. “I have been waiting for you.” My mother realized then how much her visits meant to the old woman. After that, she tried not to miss a visit again.

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