This is one of those books for which the background as important as the work itself. Author Ella Cara Deloria was born in 1889 on the Yankton Reservation and lived as a child on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, where her father was a deacon of the Protestant Episcopalian church. Educated at Columbia University, Deloria did her most important work as a research specialist in American Indian ethnology and linguistics. Her position as a member of a prominent family, their political awareness and valuation of scholarship (her brother, Vine Deloria Jr. wrote âCuster Died for Your Sins' and was prominent in the American Indian Movement of the late 1960s), the fact that she was among a dwindling number of native speakers in the first quarter of the 20th century, and the happy accident that her professional lifespan overlapped with the last of the Sioux who had lived in a culture largely untouched by white men, placed her in a truly unique position.
Drawing on all aspects of that background, Deloria produced âWaterlily', a novel which chronicles the life of a Dakota Sioux woman, born probably around 1840 and coming to womanhood as the first tentacles of white culture began to invade the traditional lifestyle of the tribes. Don't look for thrilling warpath tales here, however â âWaterlily' keeps its focus strictly on the day-to-day life of a woman within this society, with particular emphasis on the relationship web that directed many of her interactions with others.
âWaterlily' is truly a unique work, but it is not without flaws, at least to the 21st century reader. Deloria writes adequately, but in a totally pedestrian manner. The characters are well-developed, and the everyday events she describes are a fascinating and informative look at a way of life which has long since vanished. But there is little in it to involve the emotions, even when the characters are faced with life-altering events.
It's definitely worth a read, but don't plan to shelve it in the âmasterpieceâ section.
Waterlily is the story of two Dakota sioux women who come of age before the white settlement of the western plains.
Deftly communicates the role of women in the Sioux community, and outlines Dakota laws of "social kinship". Deloria's story touchingly revisits a way of life that has long since disappeared.
WaterLily is the tail of two Dakota Sioux woman who com e of age before the white settlement of the Western Plains. Its for readers who enjoy non-fiction based on historial events.