Lakota Society

Lakota Society

Lakota Society

Lakota Society

Synopsis

As agency physician on the Pine Ridge Reservation from 1896 to 1914, Dr. James R. Walker recorded a wealth of information on the traditional lifeways of the Oglala Sioux. Lakota Society presents the primary accounts of Walker's informants and his syntheses dealing with the organization of camps and bands, kinship systems, beliefs, ceremonies, hunting, warfare, and methods of measuring time.

Excerpt

This is the second volume of documents about the Oglala Lakotas recorded by James R. Walker during his eighteen-year stay at Pine Ridge Reservation, from 1896 to 1914. The first volume, Lakota Belief and Ritual, edited by Elaine A. Jahner and myself, presents the Oglala holy men's perspectives on Lakota life during the buffalo-hunting days. Oglala religion was the focus of Walker's studies and the area in which he made his most important contribution to Lakota ethnography. The present volume presents a complementary perspective, a more secular one, on the structure and organization of traditional Lakota society. The third volume, Lakota Myth, edited by Jahner, will be largely devoted to Walker's own imaginative reconstruction of the holy men's secret and sacred lore about the origins and development of the world and man's place in it.

The documents in Lakota Society reveal the interdependence of Walker's work with that of Clark Wissler and Charles and Richard Nines. Wissler was the anthropologist from the American Museum of Natural History in New York who both encouraged and financed Walker's studies. The Nines brothers were white men, brought up with the Oglalas, who were fluent in the Lakota language. Indian traders and homesteaders in northern Nebraska, they frequently served both Walker and Wissler as interpreters. In many respects, much of what we know about the traditional Oglala way of life is dependent on the work of these four men.

During the summer of 1902 Wissler made his first visit to Pine Ridge Reservation. He intended to collect museum speci-

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