Speaking of Indians by Ella Deloria

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Ella Deloria could speak intimately about Indian ways because she belonged to a Yankton Sioux family. A distinguished scholar who studied with Franz Boas at Columbia University, she had the gift of language and the understanding necessary to bridge races. Originally published in 1944, this book is an important source of information about Dakota culture and a classic in its elegant clarity of insight.

Beginning with a general discussion of American Indian origins, language families, and culture areas, Deloria then focuses on her own people, the Dakotas, and the intricate kinship system that governed all aspects of their life. She writes, “Exacting and unrelenting obedience to kinship demands made the Dakotas a most kind, unselfish people, always acutely aware of those about them and innately courteous.”

Deloria goes on to show the painful transition to reservations and how the holdover of the kinship system worked against Indians trying to follow white notions of progress and success. Her ideas about what both races must do to participate fully in American life are as cogent now as when they were first written.


About Ella Deloria

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Ella Deloria, born in 1889 on the Yankton Reservation, spent her childhood on the Standing Rock Reservation. Her writings include Dakota Texts, Dakota Grammar (a collaboration with Boas), and Waterlily (also a Bison Book). Introducer Vine Deloria Jr. is the author of Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto and other books.
Published January 1, 1988 by Univ South Dakota Pr. 108 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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