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Witness: A Hunkpapha Historian's Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotasby Josephine Waggoner
Synopses & Reviews
During the 1920s and 1930s, Josephine Waggoner (1871and#8211;1943), a Lakota woman who had been educated at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, grew increasingly concerned that the history and culture of her people were being lost as elders died without passing along their knowledge. A skilled writer, Waggoner set out to record the lifeways of her people and correct much of the misinformation about them spread by white writers, journalists, and scholars of the day. To accomplish this task, she traveled to several Lakota and Dakota reservations to interview chiefs, elders, traditional tribal historians, and other tribal members, including women.
Published for the first time and augmented by extensive annotations, Witness offers a rare participantand#8217;s perspective on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Lakota and Dakota life. The first of Waggonerand#8217;s two manuscripts presented here includes extraordinary firsthand and as-told-to historical stories by tribal members, such as accounts of life in the Powder River camps and at the agencies in the 1870s, the experiences of a mixed-blood Hand#250;and#331;kpapand#543;a girl at the first off-reservation boarding school, and descriptions of traditional beliefs. The second manuscript consists of Waggonerand#8217;s sixty biographies of Lakota and Dakota chiefs and headmen based on eyewitness accounts and interviews with the men themselves. Together these singular manuscripts provide new and extensive information on the history, culture, and experiences of the Lakota and Dakota peoples.
With My Own Eyes tells the history of the nineteenth-century Lakotas. Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun (1857and#8211;1945), the daughter of a French-American fur trader and a Bruland#233; Lakota woman, was raised near Fort Laramie and experienced firsthand the often devastating changes forced on the Lakotas. As Bettelyoun grew older, she became increasingly dissatisfied with the way her peopleand#8217;s history was being represented by non-Natives. With My Own Eyes represents her attempt to correct misconceptions about Lakota history. Bettelyounand#8217;s narrative was recorded during the 1930s by another Lakota historian, Josephine Waggoner. This detailed, insightful account of Lakota history was never previously published.
About the Author
Emily Levine is an independent scholar and the editor of With My Own Eyes: A Lakota Woman Tells Her Peopleandrsquo;s History, by Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun and Josephine Waggoner, available in a Bison Books edition.
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