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b o o k R e v ie w s 2 1 5 Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood. By Delphine Red Shirt. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. 146 pages, $25.00. Reviewed by Lisa Knopp Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland “We Lakota seem to lose ‘things’ ... our lands, our way, our language, and even our religion,” writes Delphine Red Shirt (128). But Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood is more than a story of loss: it is also a story of reclamation. Red Shirt was bom in 1957 into a family that spoke Lakota almost exclu­ sively. Her first exposure to English and her first awareness of her own different­ ness came during her earliest days in public school in an unnamed Nebraska town where she spent the first eleven years of her life. But it was not until Red Shirt entered seventh grade in a Catholic school on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation that she learned to read and write in English. Of course, fluency in English was a necessity, but it was also a curse: “When I first began to think in English, it was only on a whim. Now I am stuck with them—these thoughts which have no root in me—and somehow I have to recapture the thoughts I thought with my ancestors, the thoughts that lie buried deep in my subconscious like old roots from a great tree but a tree that is no longer alive” (74). Still, Red Shirt was able to recapture some of the Lakota world, which she once believed lost to her, through the act of writing a memoir that includes “the old words and my connection to those around me through them” (96). The precision of some Lakota words (those delineating family relationships, for instance), the presence of word-concepts not found in the language of the dominant culture (those distinguishing different types of spirits, for instance), and the absence of other word-concepts (“The closest words to ‘love’ in our Lakota language are ‘usla,’ meaning ‘compassion or pity,’ and ‘t’ehila,’ mean­ ing to ‘value or be unwilling to part with’” [7].) remind readers that a language doesn’t just express one’s worldview; rather, it shapes it. Red Shirt also reclaims her heritage by participating in religious cere­ monies that were outlawed by the U.S. government for most of the twentieth century. In a sense, she reclaims the Black Hills, a place she had rejected as a child because of its association with tourism. But during a high school trip to the Black Hills, Red Shirt experiences what her ancestors had known: that He Sapa was the sacred center of their universe. It is there that Red Shirt wants to teach her children and grandchildren about their people, and it is there that she wants to spend her days when she is old. Cultural reclamation is no easy task when so much has been taken or relin­ quished. When Red Shirt’s maternal grandfather dies, he takes with him words that never will be used again. One hundred years ago, a relative would have taught Red Shirt how to decorate clothing with softened, dyed porcupine quills. The practice of this art would have bound her to her grandmothers and their 2 1 6 WAL 3 5 .1 S u m m e r 2 0 0 0 grandmothers. In the absence of teachers, Red Shirt must teach herself. By pass­ ing this skill on to her daughter, who in turn will pass it on to her daughter, Red Shirt will “reconnect the circle” that binds her female relatives (6). Reconstructing a Chicano/a Literary Heritage: Hispanic Colonial Literature of the Southwest. Edited by Maria Herrera-Sobek. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998. 248 pages, $17.95. Reviewed by Sandra L. Dahlberg University of Houston-Downtown With its basis in the Hispanic colonial era, the Chicano/a literary tradi­ tion spans five hundred years and is one of the most enduring in the United States. Often, however, too little emphasis is afforded the foundational Hispanic colonial texts due to the ideological dissonance they pose to con­ temporary audiences and because of underlying assumptions...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 215-216
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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