COMPLETING THE CIRCLE by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve


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 A poignant though too brief memoir by a prominent Native American author of young-adult fiction. Sneve (The Sioux, 1993, etc.) offers vignettes from the lives of her female ancestors. Flora Driving Hawk, whom the author knew as ``Unci,'' was small in size but nevertheless a strong-willed and determined woman. An Indian and a devout Christian, she was equally comfortable telling her children and grandchildren stories from her tribe's oral tradition and humming her favorite hymns. She was the granddaughter of High Bear, a chief who fought Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. ``Kunsi,'' Sneve's great-grandmother, was a Ponca who married into the Sioux nation and became conversant with the traditions of each tribe. Her husband, a Santee Sioux, was exiled from his native Minnesota to South Dakota in the aftermath of the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. Sneve relates this story, and many others from the history of the Ponca and the Sioux, in a stream-of-consciousness manner that reflects the style of Native American storytelling. Many myths from the oral tradition are included, among them the tale of White Buffalo Calf Woman, who gave the Sioux their sacred pipe. The author also gives details of the tribes' folkways: food, the role of women, the winter count by which they kept track of the years. Interwoven with the portraits of these remarkable women and their people is the biography of Sneve herself, who used information gathered from them as source material for many of her books. She completes the family circle by closing with the stories of her mother, who grew up on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, and of her own life. A genealogical table clarifies the relationships, and historical family photographs add to the book's intimacy. A heartfelt account of Indian history and tradition by a masterful storyteller.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8032-4226-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


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