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by Ella Cara Deloria, JR. VI Deloria

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This novel of the Dakota Sioux written by Sioux ethnologist Deloria takes protagonist Waterlily through the everyday and the extraordinary events of a Sioux woman's life.


This novel of the Dakota Sioux written by Sioux ethnologist Deloria takes protagonist Waterlily through the everyday and the extraordinary events of a Sioux woman's life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Deloria was a Sioux Indian and an ethnologist who worked with anthropologist Franz Boas. Written in the early 1940s and now published for the first time, this culturally detailed novel of 19th century Sioux life focuses on a young girl named Waterlily. When her mother Blue Bird is deserted by her husband, she and her daughter are welcomed by relatives at their tiyospaye (encampment of related households) on the western plains. Deloria portrays Waterlily's maturation, daily tribal life and the crucial ``kinship rules.'' As the author wrote elsewhere, the Sioux concept of kinship meant ``achieving civility, good manners, and a sense of responsibility toward every individual dealt with.'' Waterlily learns she must show altruism and generosity, be courteous, demure and truthful, and highly value each family member. While this novel's plot is slight, Deloria clearly accomplished what was probably her true goalpresenting an authoritative, expertly researched account of Sioux beliefs, social conventions and ceremonies. As such, it is an absorbing document. Literary Guild alternate. (April)
Library Journal
$19.95. f ``I have a mission: To make the Dakota people understandable, as human beings, to the white people who have to deal with them.'' That commitment, strengthened by more than 20 years of research with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, inspired Yankton Sioux ethnologist Deloria to write this novel, completed in 1944 but published only now. Set in Sioux country in the 19th century and beginning with a dramatic birth, it portrays intricate kinship rituals and the compelling minutiae of daily life. A richly female perspective balances traditional male values expressed in warfare and hunting. Intended as popular literature, the novel is an amalgam of meticulous research and enduring intimacies available only to outsiders. A captivating narrative, recommended for general as well as subject collections. Rhoda Carroll, Vermont Coll., Montpelier
An English-language edition of the German book Wasserturme. The translator had only introductory text to work; the book comprises 224 photographs by an internationally known pair of German industrial landscape photographers. Their work is deliberately unglamorous, departing from the usual style of architectural photography. The Bechers' photos are widely collected in the US, but this is the first time their work has been published here. Photographs were taken over a period of 25 years. A reprint of the University of Nebraska Press edition of 1988. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Journal of the West

"Deloria tells universal truths cast in an authentic framework of early nineteenth-century Plains Indian society. . . . The feminine point of view is genius."—Journal of the West

Los Angeles Times

“No one is better qualified than Deloria to draw together a series of Sioux female characters such as the ones central to this novel. . . . Deloria was bilingual as well as bicultural. Through her work we see the value of the insider’s perspective as a bridge of understanding for those outside the culture.”—Ines Talamantez, Los Angeles Times


“Waterlily is by one who knows the culture from within, and in its instruction about Dakota ethnography the book strikes me . . . as wonderfully fine. Day to day life of the traditional Dakota is rendered in sympathetic detail.”—Arnold Krupat, The Nation

— Arnold Krupat

World Literature Today

“[Deloria’s] novel is a distinguished work of literature at the same time that it is an important exercise in historical reconstruction, based on her wide and deep study of Dakota texts.”—World Literature Today

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Meet the Author

A member of a prominent Yankton Sioux family, Ella Cara Deloria was born in 1889 on the Yankton Reservation and lived as a child on the Standing Rock Reservation. Her studies at Columbia University with Franz Boas resulted in three books, Dakota Texts, Dakota Grammar (a collaboration with Boas), and Speaking of Indians, as well as many other writings.

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