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Lame Deer, Seeker Of Visions: The Life Of A Sioux Medicine Man Paperback – 15 Mar 1973
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The personal narrative of a Sioux medicine man reveals his way of life and beliefs about the white man.
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Before our white brothers came to civilise us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilised to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorney or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We were in a really bad way before the white man came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without the basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilised society.
These days we're used to 'autobiographies' written by shadow writers, but there are two important differences here:
a)The subject's native language is not English (so he wouldn't be able to oversee it very effectively);
b)the book's main interest is its authenticity.
If I could be sure that it was genuinely the thought, even if not the words, of Lame Deer, I'd give it five stars. It's full of fascinating material both about traditional Sioux life, including religious practices like the Sun Dance, and about the way Native Americans regard and deal with the modern world. Three stars reflects the impossibility of knowing how far it is for real.
The faith and trust in the Great Spirit is so deep rooted that one can only cry for the lost civilisation and a way of life that was sinned against.
A book of ambassadorial information and an honour to the first nation peoples and their ways. In spite of the injustices they were subjugated beneath. Put today strife into context, And offers insight rather than judgement for the people of the Rose bud nation.
There is also humour throughout the book, Lame Deer's own individual sense of humour that is both generous and accommodating of difference. I have marked several passages in this book to go back to. I was going to write a few of them in here but I think the best thing I can do is to direct you to the book itself. It's worth reading, even if only to make friends with an old Indian.
This is a fascinating story of Lame Deers life and recollections told with natural humor. Throughout his story he tells of some of the history of his people told to him by eyewitnesses and who show a different history than that printed in the history books.
Some of the generals - such as Custer - were called hero's, whereas the 'marauding savages' he destroyed were actually groups of women, children and old men. His ruthless genocide lead to several tribes getting together with such great leaders as Crazy Horse, and the resulting battle at the Little Big Horn where - far from being his usual 'soft' target - Custer found himself in a real battle which he lost.
Lame Deer is one of the few 'True Blood' Shaman prepared to share his knowledge with non natives and the training he describes makes riveting reading and makes it difficult to put the book down.
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