Of Uncommon Birth: Dakota Sons in Vietnam

Overview

A work of creative nonfiction inspired by the true story of two South Dakota teenagers, Mark St. Pierre’s Of Uncommon Birth draws upon extensive interviews and exhaustive research in military archives to present a harrowing story of two young men—one white, one Indian—caught in the vortex of the Vietnam War.

Dale, a young middle-class white American from South Dakota, joins the army during the Vietnam War and dreams of serving his country. Frank, a young Lakota Indian, joins the...

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Overview

A work of creative nonfiction inspired by the true story of two South Dakota teenagers, Mark St. Pierre’s Of Uncommon Birth draws upon extensive interviews and exhaustive research in military archives to present a harrowing story of two young men—one white, one Indian—caught in the vortex of the Vietnam War.

Dale, a young middle-class white American from South Dakota, joins the army during the Vietnam War and dreams of serving his country. Frank, a young Lakota Indian, joins the army both in an effort to flee the seemingly inescapable circumstances of his life and to follow his people’s warrior tradition. In Of Uncommon Birth, Mark St. Pierre intimately weaves together the lives of these two young men from very different worlds. Each in his own way struggles with issues of loyalty, responsibility, sacrifice, and personal identity through his experiences in Vietnam.

Of Uncommon Birth presents the ironic story of what it means for an American Indian soldier in Vietnam to let himself become stereotyped as the Native “good luck charm” for his unit as a way to find acceptance, approval, and identity within the majority culture, even if the Brave and Loyal Indian Scout stereotype carries with it the smell of death.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806135175
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (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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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Prologue 3
Of Uncommon Birth 9
Epilogue 269
Postscript 271
Glossary 275
Table of American Indian Casualties in Vietnam 286
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2004

    Recalling a Tragic Time

    This is an exceedingly fine account of two young men from South Dakota who actually volunteered in serve in Vietnam, albeit for different reasons. Mark St. Pierre is a excellent writer and storyteller, and once you get into it, the book becomes a real page-turner. His ability to capture scenes and emotions with seemingly minimal description is striking and one of the reasons why the book really races along, especially when the protagonists Frank and Dale reach Vietnam. I was too young to appreciate what men endured over there when it happened but, having read 'Of Uncommon Birth', I now have a better understanding of the ambiguities encountered and felt by the men who fought there, the challenges posed by army life in a tropical jungle and the horror of the war itself.

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