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Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  1,350 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Lame Deer

Storyteller, rebel, medicine man, Lame Deer was born almost a century ago on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A full-blooded Sioux, he was many things in the white man's world -- rodeo clown, painter, prisioner. But, above all, he was a holy man of the Lakota tribe.

Seeker of Vision

The story he tells is one of harsh youth and reckless manhood, shotg

Paperback, Enriched Classic, 352 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1972)
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Mar 17, 2012 Robyn rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of mystically minded, "authentic" native american stories, and while I have enjoyed a lot of them, this one really hit me where it counts.

There's humor and wisdom and pain in this, but more interesting is what it doesn't have. Unlike many spiritually inclined texts, I don't get a feeling of... well... Smugness from Lame Deer. So many of the new age mystical texts I've read have this feeling, like "Well, this is just how the universe works, and I the author, must educate you poor
Jul 31, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing
To me, this summarizes Lame Deer's narrative:

"You've seen me drunk and broke. You've heard me curse or tell a dirty joke. You know I'm not better and wiser than other men. But I've been up on the hilltop, got my vision and power; the rest is just trimmings."

I was raised Catholic, and I didn't realize how much I still looked back on that upbringing until reading this book and thinking "THIS is what a priest should be like." Any one who hasn't walked the dark side, who hasn't questioned their exis
Jan 10, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing
I was skeptical at first with this book. I read a lot of Native American legend and trickster tales, histories and so forth. I had always lumped this one in with the " Mystical Indian" books that surround the gems I had come to find over the years. This became one of those gems. It was refreshing to see it was not some hokum over a shaman, but a book about a man growing up in the early 20th century and finding his voice among many, as well as a voice in his society. He reminds me of how my grand ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it

Es war Liebe auf den ersten Blick als ich 2011 das erste Mal den Wilden Westen erblickte.
Diese unendliche Weite. Offenes Land, wie man es nirgendwo in Europa findet. Echte Wildnis mit Bären, Kojoten, Klapperschlangen und Bisons. Ein grenzenloser Himmel und freie Sicht auf den Horizont. Kein Haus und keine Landwirtschaft.
Es war eine spirituelle Erfahrung und unbewusst auch die Geburtsstunde von awesomatik.
Denn seit meinem Besuch im Westen, versuche ich auf allen meinen Reisen dieses Gefühl der
Apr 13, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I can not recommend this book highly enough. As someone from a predominantly (and proudly) american indian family it helped me come to terms with a lot of the things I've always felt in my life that have led to me making somewhat self-defeating choices. I don't want to make it sound like this is some sort of self-help bullshit. Becuase it's not. It's an un-apologetic autobiography of a man (and his people) who is displaced from his culture and forced to adopt a new (more destructive, angry and u ...more
May 09, 2011 Nick rated it it was amazing
I think I have wound up reading this book 6 times. Lame Deer is one of the few people whose social, economic and political criticisms are not purely ideologically or politically driven. This is one of the few books that will force you to bend your mind in a new way. No, this is not a complex Continental philosophy tract. This is something better. Lame Deer makes no pretense to be an intellectual. This book is about how a dying Lakota shaman sees the world. You can accept or reject Lame Deer's so ...more
Nancy Bevilaqua
May 10, 2013 Nancy Bevilaqua rated it really liked it
I have a Lakota friend (he's full-blooded, although he likes to say that he's 5/4 Lakota) who lives just off one of the reservations in South Dakota (housing on the reservations is apparently in short supply these days). Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions would probably send him off the deep end (I'm not sure if he's read it or not). He is adamantly against the "romanticization" of his people and their culture, particularly (and he is certainly not alone in this among other Lakota with whom I've spoke ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Ainetheon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: native-american
As I read this book I felt I was being taken along a journey by an old Indian. Not the grumpy old Indian, One Feather, whom I met on my only successful meditation. For a long time I have wondered about the connectedness I feel inside with the Native American Indian. I've never had the desire to visit America (although I am slowly changing my mind - I guess that's allowed). Strange that I have never wanted to see the country a (real live self-confessed) witch on the Isle of Man told me that had s ...more
Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing
Tahca Ushte (Lame Deer) was a Lakota medicine man from a land now known as South Dakota (“Sioux” is a white name that insults the Lakota). His government-issued name was John Fire. He was born some time between 1895 and 1903, and died in 1976. His parents were of the last generation to be born wild and free. Two of his grandfathers had been at the battle of Little Big Horn, Custer’s last stand, and one of them survived the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Lame Deer’s early years were spent in a remote l
Nov 06, 2007 Jason rated it really liked it
Lame Deer was many things in his life. He was an outlaw, lawman, rodeo clown, and Indian medicine man. At a later point in his life Lame Deer came to meet an artist living in NY named Richard Erdoes. The men decided to collaborate together to write a book about the life of Lame Deer. Lame Deer himself was a Sioux medicine man trained in the ways of the old ones. This book is gripping and humorous. The first part recounts many funny personal stories about Lame Deer's life and his run-ins with the ...more
Jake The
Tahce Ushte is the main character in this story. He is a full-blooded Sioux indian. He is 72 years old. His name means John Lame Deer in indian. He has many useful attributes. This is a story about a man that wanted to represent native americans through speech and writing. He is a very diverse man. Has many talents and the main one he wanted to pursue was writing. Especially about his people. Throughout his life he met a man and they together wrote a book about Lame deers life story. It is a gre ...more
David McDannald
May 07, 2012 David McDannald rated it it was amazing
A classic. Lame Deer had a foot in the old world, and his insights into the modern world are humorous and important. The book can feel somewhat formless at times, but the messages within are worth the effort of reading. If you're open to it, Lame Deer's voice can change you.
Dec 31, 2015 Kichi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wonderful. I can't think of a more fitting description.
Addicted to Books
I had to return my copy back to my friend. Need to purchase a copy
soon. I loved it!
Jun 06, 2014 Judi rated it really liked it
Read this book in May of 2014. It was fantastic!
Rachel Jackson
It's always hard for me to read books about being "spiritual" because it's difficult to reconcile my lack of belief with the beliefs that others have. I have no problems with other people's beliefs — well, provided they don't cause harm to anyone — and I find people's adherence to religions or other spiritual paths fascinating. But I just can't get into them myself.

So reading John Fire Lame Deer's book was both good and bad for me. It was an interesting first-person account of some of the ceremo
Sue Jackson
Jun 20, 2015 Sue Jackson rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions. It was interesting to read about life though the perspective of a medicine man. I was very surprised that he, as a medicine man, was human. I know that sounds weird but I always thought of medicine men as honorable and almost untouchable and well respected. In this book, this medicine man is not always a good man, he was a womanizer and drank, yet he became a medicine man based on his visions. Yes he grew old with clear perspective and values but h ...more
Don Flynn
Dec 16, 2013 Don Flynn rated it really liked it
We have so many comforts living this way, but what have we lost to get here? Why do we have so much stress in our lives? Why does this world we've built for ourselves feel so fragile?

Lame Deer, a Lakota shaman, has answers to these questions and many more. In the past 25 years or so, I've read a lot of Native American literature, both fiction and non-fiction. I'm continually drawn to it, learning from it, feeling a kinship with the authors. Today, the way we live life is like a car heading at fu
Dec 02, 2014 Diva rated it it was amazing
My last book in 2014, utterly fascinating and interesting. I drew quite a few parallels with the American Indian beliefs and cultures and Hinduism - this was very insightful as well as painful in part, mostly the foreword (!!). People say it is a funny book, I don't agree that much but it did made me chuckle at two places. It is a book of philosophy and understanding and of keeping an open mind. It was a story near to my heart, as most of its theories find a believer in me - though of course the ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is a fascinating look into Sioux culture from an actual wicasa wakan (medicine man in common American parlance). It is a rare window into Lakota rites (the sundance, sweat bath and vision quest), stories and beliefs.

Lame Deer also gives his perspective on white society and its spiritual and ethical bankruptcy (he spent some years in white society). He sees many of us chasing the almighty dollar, disconnected from the land, plants, animals and each other (spot on). By contrast, the Sioux gi
Michael Baca
Feb 13, 2013 Michael Baca rated it it was amazing
This is one book that I have read several times over the years. Seems every time I see it on a shelf at the book store I buy another copy cause my old one I gave away so that it my inspire another person.

It's the story Lame Deer, a rodeo clown, outlaw and medicine man. We start with a journey up the hill on his first vision quest as a young boy and follow him throughout the amazing journey that is his life. When I read this book I feel as thought I am sitting next to Lame Deer as we drive along
Jan 24, 2016 Elde rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by a young lady working at the Bear Butte Visitor Center when I was there a couple years ago. I bought it that day but never got around to reading it until now. I am so glad I listened to her! It's a combination of autobiography, cultural anthropolgy & history. I have lived in South Dakota my entire life and have been to many of the places mentioned. I am familiar with the culture & history of the Sioux tribes. I also know the current living conditions on the re ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Mike rated it liked it
Nothing to romanticize about the life of this Lakota medicine man. John Lame Deer was a hard drinking, womanizing, law-breaking rodeo clown who, all along, was learning the ways of the shaman, living a full life, exploring the dark side as well as the light, so that, unlike the Christian clergy, he could, when helping his people, speak and act out of experience. To look through the eyes of Lame Deer is to see how it’s possible for the symbolic world and the everyday world to coincide, how an ord ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Coral rated it really liked it
Wow, what a fascinating and interesting account of the life of a Sioux medicine man. Lame Deer introduces himself and his life, but also discusses the Sioux religion, Wakan Tanka, Sioux rituals, philosphy, history and practices. Although the Sioux (and all other Indians) obviously had a bad experience with the white man, Lame Deer is not full of hate for all the pale faces. In fact, the man who assisted in the writing of the story is Anglo and a very close friend to Lame Deer and many other Siou ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lame Deer, for me, epitomizes what it meant to be an elder. What does this mean? I'm not too sure but the feeling I get from reading Lame Deer is the same feeling you would get from interacting with a respectable person that lives for the people but also has an abundant amount of knowledge on the ways of the people.

The text was an easy read. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a non-stereotypical insight to ways of Dakotas/Lakotas. Those of you looking for an angry SIOUX Warrior or the "
Mar 25, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Really engaging first-hand account of what it was like (is like) being an Indian under the influence of another interfering and confusing dominant culture. Published in 1972 at the height of the Indian Rights Movement, the tales go back to the previous century. Funny, irreverent, poignant, wise, Lame Deer is a wonderful reconteur. Occasional other voices are included, recorded live at demonstrations and ceremonies. The epilogue by Erdoes, the Austrian-American who helped him publish the book, is ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Jim rated it liked it
This book is about the life and times of John (Fire) Lame Deer, a Lakota holy man. It is based on talks and visits that Richard Erdoes had with Lame Deer, so it is a recorded oral history consisting of memories, experiences, observations of white culture, etc. My only complaint is that it rambles in places.
Feb 08, 2016 Rock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pervasively amusing but often ranty tour through Lakota spirituality as understood and experienced by the author (and told to, then written down, by a non-Indian friend). It will be hard to not be charmed by his perspective and stories, and from my understanding (from a class and books, that is to say "minimal"), he does a good job of summarizing the theory and practice of Lakota spirituality.
Ginger Stephens
Jun 03, 2016 Ginger Stephens rated it it was amazing
This book is a wonderful mix of spirituality and adventure. It comes from the Lakota belief that their spiritual leaders need to have lived a full life in order to be able to advise others. Lame Deer's adventures as Roberta Redpants (rodeo clown) are memorable. This is an easy read and Lame Deer's story will stay with you.
Jul 29, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Lame Deer tells it like it really is, was, and has been. As a modern day prophet, he preaches the word of God and Mother Earth alike. I can't count the many rich and powerful quotations in this book, the epic passages that describe our nation's history, culture, and spirituality all at once. This book should be on the syllabus in every 10th grade history/english/social studies class.
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Book Club: Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions 1 1 Aug 31, 2016 07:34AM  
Fiction? 2 5 Jul 07, 2014 04:39AM  
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  • Fools Crow
  • Book of the Hopi: The first revelation of the Hopi's historical and religious world-view of life
  • Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present
  • The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living
  • God Is Red: A Native View of Religion
  • American Indian Trickster Tales
  • Seven Arrows
  • The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions
  • The Wisdom of the Native Americans: Including The Soul of an Indian and Other Writings of Ohiyesa and the Great Speeches of Red Jacket, Chief Joseph, and Chief Seattle
  • Crow Dog: Four Generations of Sioux Medicine Men
  • Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance
  • 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians
  • Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing
  • Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World
  • In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
  • The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull
John Fire Lame Deer was a Mineconju-Lakota Sioux born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. His father was Silas Fire Let-Them-Have-Enough. His mother was Sally Red Blanket. He lived and learned with his grandparents until he was 6 or 7, after which he was placed in a day school near the family until age fourteen. He was then sent to a boarding school, one of many run by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Aff ...more
More about John (Fire) Lame Deer...

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“Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can't have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a an was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were to uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man's worth couldn't be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorneys or politicians, therefore we couldn't cheat. We really were in a bad way before the white men came, and I don't know how we managed to get along without these basic things which, we are told, are absolutly necessary to make a civilized society.” 47 likes
“If this earth should ever be destroyed, it will be by desire, by the lust of pleasure and self-gratification, by greed of the green frog skin, by people who are mindful of their own self, forgetting about the wants of others.” 13 likes
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