Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood

Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood

Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood

Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood

Synopsis

Delphine Red Shirt is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and represents the tribe at the United Nations. This book offers an account of her experiences growing up in Nebraska and on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Excerpt

I wrote these stories primarily for the joy of remembering what was good in my life. I wanted to remember these things, to write them down, the old Lakota words and my connection to the world around me through them. These stories are told through the eyes of my childhood but from an adult perspective. They are what I remember; "Weksuye" meaning "I remember"; "Ciksuye" meaning "I remember you"; "Miksuye" meaning "remember me."

In the process of writing these stories, I felt great satisfaction in reconnecting to my native language, Lakota. I felt at home using it and I felt gratified speaking it again. It came alive for me and brought back all the feelings I felt as a child when I first heard those words spoken. When I began to write using Lakota, I was not sure how its use would come across to the reader. How effective it would be to use my native language to capture the essence of what my culture means to me and of what I wanted to convey about it to the reader. I know now that my writing was richer for its use.

It is a custom in my tribe to begin any public speech or presentation with an autobiographical statement, giving my status in the tribe and telling why I am qualified to speak. In keeping with this tradition, I will only say that there was nothing special about my life except for the fact that I was a Lakota wak˓ąyeża, a child, born to a strong Lakota mother and gentle father, the two people who gave me my identity. I am grateful to them and to my Lakota ancestors for the right to say in Lakota, "Le mi + ̜ye," meaning "this is who I am. . . ."

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