Young Adults Books

WATERLILY, Ella Cara Deloria, University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln and London, 1988 (hardcover), Bison Book paper, 1990, $8.95. 244 pp, Long bio of Deloria by Agnes Picotte, afterword critical appreciation by Raymond DeMaille. 0-8032-6579-4

Ella Deloria, born near the end of the 19th century Yankton Dakota, was the aunt of well-known contemporary Dakota scholar Vine Deloria. She went to collge, and became a research assistant to the famous anthro Franz Boas, who praised her to the skies privately and took credit for her work publicly. Waterlily is a novel, a lifestory of the Dakota people -- those who had moved somewhat west to the prairie, out of the Dakota woodlands of Minnesota -- as their lives were beginning to be disrupted by waschichu. Told from the woman's viewpoint, it emphasizes the network of obligations and relationships that formed cultural unity. Although the domain of scholarship was almost exclusively male until near the end of her life in the 1960's, Deloria felt that omitting the personal vitiated the life of the culture and reduced human emotion to statistical patterns. Waterlily is therefore her kind of native-centered science monograph. It's a good story, and woven into it are the solidly-based facts of actual plains life. Waterlily is a good story, and the book's afterwords make good reading too, Deloria is a fine role model of a native scholar for today's young women. The manuscript -- apparently finished in 1947 -- was not published during her life, perhaps bcause of the death of Ruth Benedict, whose professional support was needed to imprss publishers. Reviewed by Paula Giese

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

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 1996 - 7:19:04 AM