The first Crow Dog was born in the 1830s. A contemporary and comrade of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, he was a leading participant in the messianic Ghost Dance of 1889 that precipitated the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. In 1973, his great-grandson, Leonard Crow Dog, was AIM's spiritual leader at the second Wounded Knee. The memories that link the two are intact, and form the spine of a narrative that sweeps across two centuries in the history of the West.Leonard, the book's principal narrator, discovered as a young boy that he had a special spiritual vision, a power, and at thirteen became a wichasha wakan - what white people call a medicine man. Still staunchly traditional in the face of pressure to Christianize, Leonard describes in detail the sun dance and many ceremonies and rituals that still play a significant role in Lakota life.In the sixties and seventies, Leonard took up the family's political challenge through his involvement with AIM, for which he became spiritual leader. He was a key figure in the momentous events in South Dakota and Washington, D.C., that centered on the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee and the notorious raids, murders, and trials at the Pine Ridge Reservation.This is the story of two centuries of struggle and triumph, of reckless deeds and heroic lives, of degradation and survival. It is a saga in every sense of the word.
- Paperback | 320 pages
- 160.02 x 231.14 x 15.24mm | 498.95g
- 22 Jun 1995
- HarperCollins Publishers Inc
- New York, NY, United States
Another elegiac "as-told-to" autobiography from writer/photographer Erdoes. Erdoes (Tales from the American Frontier, 1991, etc.) befriended the Crow Dogs in the 1970s and parlayed that relationship into two successful volumes about Mary Crow Dog. He now turns his attention to Mary's ex-husband, Leonard, and to previous generations of the family as well. The first Crow Dog, born in 1836, was a renowned warrior and leader who became the first Indian to win a case before the US Supreme Court when his conviction for the murder of a tribal chief was thrown out. He later was one of the earliest Ghost Dancers among the Lakota. Leonard's grandfather, John Crow Dog, traveled with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. The story of Leonard's father, Henry, a noted holy man, is told largely in his own words from a tape Leonard keeps. Like his father, Leonard is a traditional medicine man. He is also a leader in the Native American Church, which uses the hallucinogen peyote, and much detail is provided about that nco-syncretic religion as well as about traditional ceremony. The emotional core of the book, however, is the involvement of Leonard and Henry with the American Indian Movement (AIM) of the 1970s, of which they became spiritual leaders, reviving the Ghost Dance, which had been banned by the US government since the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. Leonard was at the siege of Wounded Knee in 1973 and witnessed the bloody aftermath on the reservation. Because of his role in AIM, he was persecuted and harassed by federal and state authorities, tried three times for minor offenses, and eventually sent to prison. His release was finally secured by lawyers William Kunstler and Vine Deloria Jr. The volume ends at a "high point" in Leonard's life, a Sun Dance at Henry's place following his release from jail in 1977. (For a history of another Lakota family, see Joe Starita's The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge, p. 311.) Highly romanticized and flatly told, but nonetheless informative. (Kirkus Reviews)