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Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman's Storyby Mark St. Pierre
Synopses & Reviews
In Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman's Story, Mark St. Pierre skillfully weaves together his interviews with Madonna Swan-Abdalla to capture the indomitable spirit of a Lakota woman as she celebrates the joys and endures the sufferings of her remarkable life on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Born in 1928, Madonna Swan's life on the reservation was appalingly difficult. Stricken with tuberculosis at age sixteen, she survived to marry, have a family, go to college, and teach in the reservation Head Start program. Madonna Swan-Abdalla was named North American Indian Woman of the Year in 1983.
"Madonna Swan-Abdulla's is a story of classical struggle and ordinary acts of sadness and strength. This biography is an important document not only for those interested in learning more about contemporary Lakota life, but for anyone who knows what it is to struggle courageously against great odds." Louise Erdrich
"It elicits our admiration for Madonna and others like her who face a greater number of adversities than most of us do without losing hope or faith in themselves and others, and without impairing their outlook or their clement dispositions." Basil H. Johnston, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
In Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman's Story, Mark St. Pierre skillfully weaves together his interviews with Madonna Swan-Abdulla to capture the indomitable spirit of a Lakota woman as she celebrates the joys and endures the sufferings of her remarkable life on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.
Born in 1928, Madonna Swan was winona — the first-born daughter-of Lucy High Pine and James Swan. She held a special place in an extended family of grandparents, parents, and ten brothers and sisters.
For the Swans, as for other Lakota Sioux, life on the reservation in the first half of the twentieth century was appallingly difficult. In her narrative, Madonna details her life-her earliest childhood memories, the Lakota traditions taught by her grandparents, the daily struggle against poverty and prejudice, and her education at Stephan Mission, South Dakota.
Stricken with dreaded tuberculosis at age sixteen, she survived nearly seven years in Sioux Sanitorium, a place where most other Sioux victims of TB quickly expired. Madonna's strength of spirit and determination to live carried her through the chanhu sica bad lungsand into a new life, free of disease. She survived to marry, have a family, go to college, and teach in the reservation's Head Start program.
A symbol of courage for all women, Indian and non-Indian alike, Madonna Swan-Abdulla was named North American Indian Woman of the Year in 1983. She still lives on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, where her Lakota people honor her as matriarch.
About the Author
Mark St. Pierre has lived among the Lakota people since 1971, both as an educator and as an encourager of American Indian art. His involvement has given him a special sensitivity to the more subtle aspects of acculturation and continuity in Lakota identity. He is Adjunct Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Creative Writing in Colorado Mountain College, Steamboat Springs.
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