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Men, Women and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation

by Don Doll

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-517-59049-X
Publisher: Crown

A vivid photo essay revealing in words and pictures the heritage and modern social and political currents of the Sioux Nation. Photographer Doll (Fine Arts/Creighton Univ.) has recorded the faces and personal stories of 60 members of the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota tribes living on the tribal lands of South Dakota. Doll's book portrays individuals—lawyers, doctors, ranchers, artisans, tribal council leaders, medicine men, political activists—each uniquely contributing to the preservation and furtherance of his or her culture. Several recurrent themes emerge: the problems of alcoholism, the nascent ambitions for economic development, the pressing need for young people to find their cultural roots, and the insistent demand that the federal government return the sacred lands of the Black Hills. Not overly edited, the words of these people convey a range of feelings from patience to anger, and the tribespeople place varying degrees of emphasis on spiritual and economic problems, but this is befitting a people who are not monolithic in their thoughts or their talents. Doll's photographs show Indian people in traditional pow-wow garb, in suits and ties, on horseback amid the splendor of the Black Hills, surrounded by craftwork in their studios or seated in front of television sets. A much-decorated Vietnam War veteran crouches next to his small son in a field, his khaki shirt emblazoned with an ``Airborne'' insignia. An official of a tribal gaming organization stands backlit by the garish neon of a casino sign: ``Tribal gaming is the new buffalo,'' he says. A writer sits contemplatively on a small hill in some woodlands: ``There seems to be a contemporary reliance upon the ritual life which much a crutch as the bottle was,'' she deplores. Some very striking pictures of sacred sites open this book; one wishes that Doll had included more. He has thoughtfully added a chart of tribes of the Sioux Nation. A rich and rewarding panoply of words and images of this resurgent people. (75 color photos; map; glossary)