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Oglala Women

Myth, Ritual, and Reality

Based on interviews and life histories collected over more than twenty-five years of study on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, Marla N. Powers conveys what it means to be an Oglala woman. Despite the myth of the Euramerican that sees Oglala women as inferior to men, and the Lakota myth that seems them as superior, in reality, Powers argues, the roles of male and female emerge as complementary. In fact, she claims, Oglala women have been better able to adapt to the dominant white culture and provide much of the stability and continuity of modern tribal life. This rich ethnographic portrait considers the complete context of Oglala life—religion, economics, medicine, politics, old age—and is enhanced by numerous modern and historical photographs.

"It is a happy event when a fine scholarly work is rendered accessible to the general reader, especially so when none of the complexity of the subject matter is sacrificed. Oglala Women is a long overdue revisionary ethnography of Native American culture."—Penny Skillman, San Francisco Chronicle Review

"Marla N. Powers’s fine study introduced me to Oglala women ’portrayed from the perspectives of Indians,’ to women who did not pity themselves and want no pity from others. . . . A brave, thorough, and stimulating book."—Melody Graulich, Women’s Review of Books

"Powers’s new book is an intricate weaving . . . and her synthesis brings all of these pieces into a well-integrated and insightful whole, one which sheds new light on the importance of women and how they have adapted to the circumstances of the last century."—Elizabeth S. Grobsmith, Nebraska History

258 pages | 36 halftones | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1986

Women in Culture and Society

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Native American Studies

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Series Editor’s Foreword
The Past
1. Historical Prelude
Early History
The Bureau of Indian Affairs
2. The Buffalo Nation
The Cosmological Matrix
Creation of the Universe
The Sacred Pipe
The Coming of the Pipe
The Calf Pipe in Cultural Context
3. Wincincala: Girlhood
4. Wikoškalaka: Adolescence
Women’s Sodalities
5. Winyan: Womanhood
Kinship Terms
6. Winunlicala: Old Age
The Grandmothers
Medicine Women
Ritual Participation
The Ghost Road
The Present
7. Growing up Oglala
Government Gravy
Early Education
Two Cultures
8. Making the Mark
From Buffalo to Beef
Earning a Living
Small Business
Arts and Crafts
9. It’s the Men Who Are the Chiefs
The Tribal Council
Women Chiefs
Activist Women
Law and Order
10. Hard Times
Sickness and Health
The Compound
Battered Women
The Pitiable
11. All My Relations
Christianity and Traditionalism
12. Sex Roles and Social Structure
Myth and Reality
Something Old, Something New

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