Middle School (9 - 14) Books

Sioux or Dakota Nation / W.E. Rosenfelt. Minneapolis : T.S. Denison & Co., 1973. (Grades 4-6)

Rosenfelt collaborated with Ed McGaa, Oglala Sioux, and as a result we have a straightforward and sensitive text which strives for honesty. Unfortunately, illustrations are very mediocre pen and ink drawings; the text would have been much better served by photographs. Although the title implies an end to the Lakota Nation, Rosenfelt points out that the culture is very much alive. The section on religion is especially well-done. Highly recommended. Reviewd by: Lisa Mitten and Naomi Caldwell-Wood

A second Look: First, it's probably impossible to find; that company doesn't even exist any more. And that's just as well. Second, at the time it was written and for quite a few years afterwards, some of us who know him don't think Ed McGaa, then a Northwest Airlines pilot and involved in local real-estate politics (airport land,money, nothing to do with Native people) is sensitive or culturally knowledgeable. Many of us cannot foget he was the only Native person (there were dozens of SD white people) to testify in favor of the death penalty for Thomas White Hawk in South Dakota in 1970, not long before this so-called "sensitive" book was written.

Not long after it, McGaa was parlaying his financial expertise hustling hazardous waste disposal companies to go out to South Dakota and dump on Pine Ridge rez land, thus avoiding federal environmental regulations of hazardous waste. He was ahead of his time, but a good many Lakotas were ahead of him then, too; it didn't happen.

Lately, he has taken to promoting himself (now retired from NWA) as a spiritual elder. His latest literary production is a book about how to do a sweat-lodge by the numbers for New Agers. So it's guilt by association, or source, I guess, because I haven't actually seen this little book. If in fact it's sensitive or has any kind of authentic culture, that must have come from the non-Indian actual writer. Not a book to seek out, in short. McGaa is basically a rich former commercial pilot, much involved in real estate investments, who wants to be an Indian now that he's retired with plenty of money. During the time when South Dakota Pine Ridge Lakota were enduring a terrorism and death rate that amounted to a secret war on Native Pine Ridge families, McGaa was looking out for No. 1, And that was right when somebody wrote this book he put his name on. New Agers, now, like him fine, though. Paula Giese

In any event, these two authors appear to have drawn almost all their material from a Minnesota Historical Society publication for students, Gopher Historian Leaflet, The Dakota or Sioux, 18 pages for ages 8+, still available from MHS, and that one does have good illustrations.

File: mi213

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Monday, March 11, 1996 - 11:37:17 AM