SIOUX TRAIL by John Upton Terreil


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An old hand at Western history and lore, Terrell almost always manages lo be entertaining. This time, however, he flops. The ethnology and archaeology of the Sioux as rendered by Terrell is not only derivative but ill-digested. As a result the book reads more like an inventory than a history. First, a flimsy chapter on the very little we know about their lifestyles before the coming of the Europeans. After that, the book proceeds geographically scanning the East, South, Midwestern Prairies and Northern Great Plains. Terrell locates and describes each tribe by place names and the travelers' reports of the first whites who encountered them. Some of the groupings -- e.g. Monacan, Nahyssan and Saponi of the East Coast are so obscure that a paragraph suffices. By the end of the Colonial period there were hardly any left anyway. Many of the smaller branches died out of white men's diseases, moved West and amalgamated with larger Sioux groupings or simply disappeared. The pattern of making treaties which granted the Indians land ""in perpetuity"" only to have the pacts broken and the Indians removed further West to ever smaller and more inhospitable reservations is repeated again and again. Whether the tribes were warlike or, like the Ponca, ""peaceful, industrious and progressive"" they were treated with the same cruelty. Terrell throws in a few words about puberty rites, origin myths, religious ceremonies and burial and trade practices -- but it's really not enough.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1974
Publisher: McGraw-Hill