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Lukota Woman offers a look through Mary Crow Dog’s eyes into the world of being an American Indian in the 50’s through the 70‘s. It gives a very personal account of her experiences as well as others she witnessed and encountered, From birth Mary Crow Dog was surrounded by Indian powerlessness at the hands of the US government Family structure of the Indians MCD, traditionally was one following the tiyospaye, where the community all took care of each other and helped raise each other’s kids and grandchildren This was challenged and broken apart by the government to further progress’ and ‘civilization’ and forced the Sioux into the ‘nuclear family.
Once of age, MCD was taken off to boarding school, just like her mother and grandmother. MCD likens her feelings of this place like being Jewish in a concentration camp MCD was in a system of corporal punishment where missionaries sought to beat the Indian out of the children and indoctrinate them with the word of christ and the white man’s way of being.
She met this violence with violence. Her schooling ended after punching in the nose of her teacherr It was here that she saw and experienced and understood for the first time the horrendous atrocities, racism and injustices being placed upon the Indians. This would be the first contrast to bring about the inner fire she had to fight for her rights and others experiencing such cruelty. After school, MCD started “roving” where she witnessed and was a player in the violence and racism inflicted upon Indians from outside the boarding school walls, from society at larger Her run in with the court system after being caught for stealing as well as her sisters pushed MCD away from that way of life, and she came to think “there were better, more mature ways to fight for my rights” MCD was deeply influenced by her first encounter with Crow Dog and some members of AIM at a powwow who opened the door for her to understand her past – the history and ways of Indians and the traditional way of being.
At her boarding school a Yippie Hlippie came to the school and spoke of the Black and Indian activism happening and told the girls to “tell it like it is. Let it all hang out.” and followed with the newspaper The Red Panther MCD’s experiences are not totally representative of other American Indians of the time. Her descriptions of the reservations are experienced by others, as one says: “what is there back hometal see no jobs, nothing to do, everyone just drinks” Ignatia Broker writes about how she assimilated into American life and her two Ojibway children who “do not know what the reservation means or the Bureau of Indian affairs, or the tangled treaties and federal…lndian laws which have spun their webs for a full century around the Native People, the First People of this land One man‘s experience in the 70‘s took up work in the city through a BIA training program and retained his job, supporting himself, Others describe having success through being relocated and adapting to the city as well while another camp had horrible experiences moving to the city. MCD’s experience is unique yet parallels many other American Indian’s experiences To say if her experience is representative of others seems far too broad of a comparison.
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