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Hanta Yo: An American Saga

4.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  667 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
A multigenerational saga that depicts the lives of two families of Teton Sioux from the late 1700s to the 1830s, before the arrival of the white man.
Paperback, 834 pages
Published April 1st 1981 by Warner Books (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,391)
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Nov 04, 2008 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
This is my all time favorite book. I read it back in the late 80's and have been ruined for a good fiction book ever since. I compare every book I ever read to this one and 99.99% of them fall short.

The story of how the book came to be written is fascinating in itself. For those of you that don't know, this book is an actual history of a tribe of Lakota, Sioux. It seems that many years ago an elder in the tribe had a 100-winter count. These were pieces of leather/animal skins with drawings that
Aug 17, 2012 Clif rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who is intrigued by native-American culture
I found this paperback in a box of old books left by a neighbor who moved away.

Over 1100 pages long, it truly is a saga and, in the manner of Moby Dick, transports the reader into the details of a kind of life never again to be lived, not with dry details but through a vivid story.

Following the life of a character from his birth to his death, nothing is held back about the culture of the Lakotah (Sioux to the white man) who were masters of the Great Plains near the Black Hills until the coming o
Feb 14, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I came across this book when my mother took a cultural anthropology course, and brought it home as required reading. She had a tough time getting into it, and since I am an avid reader, she gave it to me so I could give her an idea of what it was about. Because the text was translated into the Lakota/Dakota language, and then translated back into English, the organization of the sentences seems awkward at first. However, once you get used to it, you realize that you are entering into a world few ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Sandy rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by my sister Sue who read every book on Native Americans she could find. Hanto Yo was her hands down favorite and she convinced me to read it. Although not a topic I was originally interested in, within a few pages I was hooked, hoping never to leave this wonderful world. Hanta Yo should be read by all Americans, as invaders who destroyed a way of life of an entire continent of people, we owe them, at the very least the understanding of what they lost. This is not a sad ...more
Terri H
Feb 04, 2013 Terri H rated it it was amazing
I stumbled across this book by accident when it was first published. I had always felt an affinity for Native American culture so I was a motivated reader and struggled through the constant going back to see how something was pronounced or what it meant. It took a long time to read because of that.

It was worth it!

In the preface it talks about how the author lived with the tribe and heard the stories firsthand. She found someone who was willing to help her write the book so that she did it righ
Apr 05, 2013 Jonna rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. This book came out in the '80's, I believe, long before "The Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves" wove their way into our American culture. This book is, I think, is over 1,000 pages and every one of them sings. Hill masterfully tells the story of the Plains Indians and follows one tribe in particular. You learn the mores of the tribe, the ins and outs of their culture and way of life. It is a fascinating read and I loved the book s ...more
Oct 15, 2014 George rated it did not like it
No more reading books by people who pretend to be Indians or telling truthful stories about Indians. No more members of the "Wannabe" tribe.
I read this book when it came out. Then, after reading about the movie to be made from it, I realized that this supposedly historically real book was little more than fiction, full of material that had appeared in movies and elsewhere, but there was no historical truth in it.
But I had also let myself be deceived by the Carlos Castenada books about the purpor
Jul 17, 2009 TBML rated it liked it
Before Jean M. Auel and her The Clan of the Cave Bear ; before Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear and their The People of the... series there was Ruth Beebe Hill and her Hanta Yo . It depicts the daily life of three generations of two families that were part of the Mahto band of the Teton Sioux from about 1750-1834 C.E.

Die hard purists among aficionados of Westerns will probably object to my placing it in "their" genre; the same may hold true, to a lesser de-gree, for fans of histori
Christina Carson
This was truly one of the most revealing books about the nature of the North American Native worldview I've ever read. The author not only had to learn the language, but also the conceptual framework from which the language arose, one completely different from the subject-object view that frames our language and understanding of the world. This was an enormous undertaking, yet the only way someone from outside a culture could authentically portray a foreign culture, its values and how they arose ...more
Ander Sundell
Jun 12, 2008 Ander Sundell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was basically forced upon me by my father, which is a rare thing. Book pushing is usually my mother's thing. He gave me the preface that it is not an easy read but it is worth it. The language is a bit hard to follow at first but then the problems dissolve. If I remember correctly it was written in the native Lakotah and then translated to English. I find myself bringing up things from this book all the time, just yesterday I was telling someone a story from it. Be it fact or fiction o ...more
Sep 29, 2012 Marlene rated it it was amazing
I read Hanta Yo over twenty years ago and just recently read it again. It's like entering a world that holds such poetry and beauty it almost hurts. There is a rhythm to both the words and the story, one almost feels as though they are being rocked in a mother's arms and being told a legend. Among my top five lifetime reads.
Sep 03, 2014 Dsinglet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have now read this book three times. Each time I appreciate it more. It transports the reader into a time and culture that existed in North America long before the Europeans arrived.

It is an in depth look at the way of life of the Dakota tribe on the Great Plains including everyday life, warfare, hunting and pursuit of the highest ideals and spiritual mysteries. It shows a culture which respects individual choice above all else. Leaders could be heard and followed or ignored. It was the right
Jul 12, 2010 Donna rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites! I was very glad it was a very thick (long) book because I did not want this one to end. I was immersed into a culture that is very different from today's and could not help but regret some of the beliefs that have been lost. I have reread this a few times and enjoyed it as much as the first time. It reminds me of Shogun because I get more and different details with each reading. Highly recommended!!!
D Steven Ledingham
Feb 05, 2015 D Steven Ledingham rated it it was amazing
This is hands down one of the best historical fictions of the native (First people) I have ever read. I believe it is out of print and I've worn out two copies in my lifetime. Translated from English into Dakotah/Lakotah dialect then back into English. Contains a listing of idiomatic phrases in the end of the book that is really helpful. Simply one of the best books to gain insight into the lifestyle and spiritual nature of the Lakotah. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Dec 11, 2010 Mich rated it it was amazing
When I read on the jacket of this book that it took the writer 25 years to write the story, I had to read it. It covers three generations in the life of Lakota/Dakota/Siouan native people, the generation before the arrival of the settlers, the generation during the influx of settlers, and the generation after the land was settled. This book effected my life in that I was amazed by the history in it and it set me off reading history books for about the next ten years.
Merijn Kok
Jul 18, 2015 Merijn Kok rated it it was amazing
What a massive accomplishment! Allmost 1000 pages covering five generations of lakotah life with auuthentic naming, places and culture. The story written with understanding and respect.
It deserves to me five stars because of its uniqueness in style and subject too. but do i reccomend this book to everyone? No certainly not, why throw pearls before swines? I, merijn, says so.
Nevertheless the truth about its content has been in for debate evercsince the book came out. So, maybe its more fantasy t
J.L. Day
Apr 18, 2015 J.L. Day rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to J.L. by: My Grandma
You must read this if you are a student of western history, at all. I learned a small bit of Lakota Sioux this and the author uses it scattered throughout the book and a small dictionary for translation is included at the end; the need to look up words and having to go back and forth forces you to actually absorb some of the language and customs. This is not mere reading for joy or adventuring off in your mind, it is an actual education of a proud and noble people and you WILL fall in love with ...more
Oct 03, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-great-west
Ruth Beebe Hill’s Hanta Yo is a noteworthy rendering of Native American history…historical fiction to be sure but how much history and how much fiction? From today’s viewpoint, of course, we view most everything about the Indian Nation through the lenses of the white man … which gives us a different perspective and language. Original records from Native Americans predating the incursion of the white man are practically nonexistent, at least records we can understand. While there are some drawing ...more
Geri Sizemore browder
Aug 13, 2013 Geri Sizemore browder rated it did not like it
Shelves: incomplete
It goes against the grain for me to start a book and not finish it, but this one just didn't do it for me. I truly enjoy some meat to a story and prefer true life or based on true life, and absolutely love the Indian lifestyle and all that it entails so this one sounded right up my alley. However, though I do understand this story is probably very historically accurate and is written in an effort to make us all understand and to learn, this was more like reading a high school textbook. It seemed ...more
Oct 06, 2015 Melina rated it it was amazing
Hanta Yo is truly one of my favorites. The author certainly did her homework with the native language and meanings. The book was beautiful yet, at the same time, sad and touching. The sorrow that comes with the inevitable loss of the culture of indigenous people's for the sake of "progress and civilization".
Jan 19, 2016 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The ONLY book you need to understand how "the people" lived & their fascinating culture. Passing on to my 14 year old niece, to expand her horizons. I read this as a 19 year old and have been in a state of deep respect for our original citizens ever since. CAN'T STAND THAT THIS IS OUT OF PRINT!!!!
Nick Edman
Nov 08, 2015 Nick Edman rated it it was amazing
I read this book back in 1989. To this day it is still one of my top two favorite books. It gives the reader a view into a culture of a proud people the may now be lost.
Jan 30, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Takes a little work to get the hang of reading it, but overall very gripping, based on real events in the Lakotah tribe as they made efforts to avoid white settlers.
Feb 27, 2015 Charlee rated it it was amazing
Simply stated, I'll reiterate what others here have said: one of the best and most engrossing novels I've ever read. Highly recommended to all readers.
Nov 01, 2014 Dsinglet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, also called the "Mystic Warrior" is one of my all time favorites. I actually read it years ago but am adding it here so I will remember to look for another copy.
There now is great controversy about this book. The author took 21 years to write it and did years of research and used a Sioux co-editor. However the Sioux of present day object to the depiction of early Sious life that she presented and have blocked many projects related to the book. They write great vitriol which I find unf
Shawn Buck
Aug 08, 2014 Shawn Buck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story , hard to read , but the history and facts about these people are so remarkable , so much honor , a very proud people
Susan Campbell
Apr 08, 2016 Susan Campbell rated it it was amazing
A friend of mine was a consultant on this film--Basil Heath/aka Chief White Eagle. I wrote his biography.
Les Wolf
Nov 16, 2013 Les Wolf rated it it was amazing
Hanta Yo is the monumental achievement of one author; Ruth Beebe Hill. It is the culmination of twenty five years of research into the culture of the Lakota Sioux who once populated the Black Hills area of South Dakota. Although written as a novel, the author has taken great care to write a book that is authentic in every detail; in effect, a written record of the people it so aptly describes. A book filled with Indian legend and lore, philosophy and spirituality, it is a journey into a way of l ...more
Apr 20, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Parts of this book have stayed with me over the years. An excellent read.
Nancy Werner
Jun 10, 2014 Nancy Werner rated it it was amazing
My short list for the Great American Novel. Loved every evocative page.
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