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The Real Rosebud

The Triumph of a Lakota Woman

Marjorie Weinberg

Publication Year: 2004

Her great-grandfather was a famed Lakota warrior, her father a buffalo hunter, and Rosebud Yellow Robe hosted a CBS radio show in New York City. From buffalo hunting to the hub of twentieth-century urban life, this book chronicles the momentous changes in the life of a prominent Plains Indian family over three generations. At the center of the story is Rosebud (1907–92), whose personal recollections, family memoirs, letters, and stories form the basis of this book.

Rosebud’s father, Chauncey Yellow Robe, was the son of a Lakota chief and had a traditional childhood until he was sent to the Carlisle Indian School, where he became an advocate for Indian education and citizenship. He was instrumental in planning the 1927 ceremony that brought his daughter into national prominence—an induction of Calvin Coolidge into the Lakota tribe, capped by Rosebud placing a feathered war bonnet on the president’s head. Marjorie Weinberg follows the young woman from Rapid City, South Dakota, to New York City, where she became a noted lecturer and teller of Indian tales (and where her broadcasting career brought her name to the attention of Orson Welles, who may indeed have used her name for his famous sled in Citizen Kane). Reflecting a lifelong interest and a friendship that provided Weinberg access to family archives and a rich reservoir of family oral tradition, The Real Rosebud offers an intimate picture of a century and a half of a remarkable Lakota family.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. vii


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pp. ix

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pp. xi

We are a sum total of what we have learned from all who have taught us, both great and small. I'm grateful for the inspiration and wisdom of my grandmother, Rosebud Yellow Robe. Grandma Rosebud set in motion for her people and family a lifetime pursuit of achievement and learning, a pursuit to be duplicated so that we can see the importance of rising ...

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Preface: The Real Rosebud

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pp. xiii

For as long as I can remember, Rosebud would answer the inevitable question "Were you named after the sled?" with "Why no, the sled was named after me." In fact, Rosebud was named by her father, Chauncey Yellow Robe, for the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, where her Lakota (Teton Sioux) family was enrolled, although she was born in Rapid City, ...

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pp. xv-xvii

In the more than forty years it has taken to complete The Real Rosebud, many remarkable people have given of themselves in many different ways to the "cause." First was Rosebud herself, who wanted her family's story told and until her death actively participated in the research and encouraged me to continue. She so delightfully entangled me in the quest for knowledge ...

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Introduction: Making the Promise

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pp. 1-6

It started with that first marvelous summer of 1947 spent mostly at the Jones Beach Indian Village, where Rosebud Yellow Robe was the director. My own interest in Rosebud, her family, and her people — the Lakotas or Teton Sioux — developed immediately. On her father's side, Rosebud was a Lakota Indian, a member of the Brule tribe, who live on the Rosebud ...

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Chapter 1. White Thunder to Yellow Robe

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pp. 7-12

... received their name at a time when they were camped on the shore of one of the long narrow lakes that are a feature of the country in eastern South Dakota. In a prairie grass fire about 1762-63, a man, his wife, and some children were burned to death; the rest of the people saved themselves by leaping into the lake, but most of them had their legs and thighs badly burned, and ugly scars resulted. ...

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Chapter 2. Chauncey Yellow Robe

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pp. 13-25

Chauncey Yellow Robe remembered his childhood fondly, with a good dose of nostalgia.1 He was born in the southern part of Montana, where his people were hunting buffalo. Among his early memories he recalled that his mother, Tachcawin (Deer Woman), had carried him on her back and that as her firstborn he was her favored child.2 While he was still an ...

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Chapter 3. Life in South Dakota

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pp. 26-35

In 1905, Chauncey Yellow Robe fell in love with Lillian Belle Springer, a nurse at the Rapid City Indian School. Born in Crookston, Minnesota, August 7, 1885, to Henry and Emma Sprenger, Lillie and her family moved in 1888 to Tacoma, Washington, where she was reared and went to school. Members of her family had emigrated to the United States from the ...

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Chapter 4. New York

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pp. 36-41

Shortly after the Coolidge ceremony in the summer of 1927, Rosebud took the famous Twentieth Century Limited train to New York, eager to pursue a theatrical career. Before she left the University of South Dakota to be with her ailing mother, one of her teachers, a woman, had offered to serve as chaperone for Rosebud on her first trip to New York. She knew ...

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Chapter 5. Jones Beach

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pp. 42-49

Soon after her father's death the opportunity arose that brought Rosebud to Jones Beach. The Long Island State Park Commission was building a network of parkways through private lands on Long Island to provide access to the new Jones Beach State Park, which opened on August 4, 1929. The project was controversial, however, and as a public relations ...

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Chapter 6. Later Years

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pp. 50-62

In the years after Rosebud left the Indian Village at Jones Beach, she worked part time as a doctor's receptionist in Forest Hills, New York, the town in which she and her family lived. She was also an active member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Rosebud maintained a clear boundary between her private and professional worlds. Few knew of her family, her ...

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Epilogue: Keeping the Promise

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pp. 63-68

From the very first time that Rosebud mentioned her research files and her wish to fill in the history of her family, I was absorbed in the project with her. I still am. Even after her death, as I continued the work that she herself had begun so many years before, new leads constantly came to light, as though she were guiding me along. Here, in sequence, are some of the ...


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pp. 69-78


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pp. 79-82


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pp. 83-86

Photo Section

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E-ISBN-13: 9780803204034
E-ISBN-10: 0803204035

Publication Year: 2004