CROW DOG by Leonard Crow Dog

CROW DOG

Four Generations of Sioux Medicine Men
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Another elegiac ``as-told-to'' autobiography from writer/photographer Erdoes. Erdoes (Tales from the American Frontier, 1991, etc.) befriended the Crow Dogs in the 1970s and parlayed that relationship into two successful volumes about Mary Crow Dog. He now turns his attention to Mary's ex-husband, Leonard, and to previous generations of the family as well. The first Crow Dog, born in 1836, was a renowned warrior and leader who became the first Indian to win a case before the US Supreme Court when his conviction for the murder of a tribal chief was thrown out. He later was one of the earliest Ghost Dancers among the Lakota. Leonard's grandfather, John Crow Dog, traveled with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. The story of Leonard's father, Henry, a noted holy man, is told largely in his own words from a tape Leonard keeps. Like his father, Leonard is a traditional medicine man. He is also a leader in the Native American Church, which uses the hallucinogen peyote, and much detail is provided about that neo-syncretic religion as well as about traditional ceremony. The emotional core of the book, however, is the involvement of Leonard and Henry with the American Indian Movement (AIM) of the 1970s, of which they became spiritual leaders, reviving the Ghost Dance, which had been banned by the US government since the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. Leonard was at the siege of Wounded Knee in 1973 and witnessed the bloody aftermath on the reservation. Because of his role in AIM, he was persecuted and harassed by federal and state authorities, tried three times for minor offenses, and eventually sent to prison. His release was finally secured by lawyers William Kunstler and Vine Deloria Jr. The volume ends at a ``high point'' in Leonard's life, a Sun Dance at Henry's place following his release from jail in 1977. (For a history of another Lakota family, see Joe Starita's The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge, p. 311.) Highly romanticized and flatly told, but nonetheless informative. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) ($30,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: April 26th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-016861-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995




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