Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman's Story

Overview

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...

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Overview

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 lungs–and 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This heartwarming account portrays a spirited, modern-day Lakota Sioux woman's triumph over debilitating illness and depressing conditions on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Madonna Swan-Abdulla, born in 1928, contracted tuberculosis as a teenager, lost a lung and spent a decade in sanatoriums. She speaks eloquently and without self-pity in these sometimes loosely connected sketches admirably edited by St. Pierre, sociology professor at Colorado Mountain College. Sustained by strong family ties, especially the love of her mother, Swan-Abdulla finds joy in simple ways and stands up to corrupt tribal leaders. Her life is fitting reminder that real heroes can be found in everyday life. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In this poignant life history told to author St. Pierre through interviews, Lakota matriarch Madonna Swan-Abdulla recounts her upbringing within an extended family on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota in the early part of the 20th century. Her grandmother and mother told stories to her of ``the Grandfathers'' (ancestor spirits) designed to give her a moral education and courage, something she later drew upon through a nearly ten-year stay at two sanitoria after contracting tuberculosis. Swan survived, married, attended college, and taught in a Head Start program on the reservation, becoming an inspiration to her people--and to the reader. In comparison with Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes's Lakota Woman ( LJ 2/15/90), this book describes a more traditional life. Excellent cultural and other explanatory notes support the narrative. Particularly recommended for American Indian and women's studies collections.--Christina Carter, California State Univ. Lib., Fresno
Booknews
St. Pierre weaves together his interviews with Madonna Swan-Abdulla (b.1928) to capture the spirit of a Lakota woman as she celebrates the joys and endures the sufferings of her quite remarkable life on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. (Swan-Abdulla was named North American Indian Woman of the Year in 1983.) Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806126760
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Pages: 209
  • Sales rank: 838,137
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet 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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2007

    Triumphant

    I enjoyed this book, It made me laugh,cry and did I mention laugh... Madonna has such a great view on her personal virtues and worth.

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