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Lakota Woman

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  6,350 ratings  ·  394 reviews
Mary Brave Bird grew up fatherless in a one-room cabin, without running water or electricity, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Rebelling against the aimless drinking, punishing missionary school, narrow strictures for women, and violence and hopeless of reservation life, she joined the new movement of tribal pride sweeping Native American communities in t ...more
Paperback, 263 pages
Published March 28th 1991 by Harper Perennial (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  6,350 ratings  ·  394 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I was a small girl at the St. Francis Boarding School, the Catholic sisters would take a buggy whip to us for what they called "disobedience. " At age ten I could drink and hold a pint of whiskey. At age twelve the nuns beat me for "being too free with my body." All I had been doing was holding hands with a boy. At age fifteen I was raped. If you plan to be born, make sure you are born white and male.

The above paragraph appears on the very second page of Mary Crow Dog’s memoir, Lakota Woman
May 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I can't think of a book from which i've ever learned more. This book is raw, powerful and important. ...more
Caro the Helmet Lady
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Powerful, heartbreaking and sometimes infuriating story of Mary Crow Dog and her life in her own words. Also interesting, giving a glimpse into traditions and culture of Native Americans and their religious beliefs.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Re-read 18 years later

I met, Mary Crow Dog, in 1994, at her book signing, in Phoenix, Arizona. I was impressed that Mary took the time to not only sign my book, but she wrote a note and drew a picture. Richard Erdoes accompanied Mary, and he also signed his name under Mary’s.

When I read Lakota Woman in 1994, I enjoyed what I learned about the Lakota Sioux Nation’s people, customs, and history. Re-reading the book in 2012, I read for a different purpose. I’m writing a historical novel, and need t
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those wanting to better understand the modern Native American experience
I find it difficult to review autobiographies. How does one rate the story of a life? The author may or may not be a professional writer, hence I feel it isn't wholly fair to grade based on writing quality. As for content, a life is what it is and isn't what it isn't - nothing less and nothing more. There can be no "I give your personal tragedies 3 stars for poignancy but your triumphs only 2, as I feel you could have been more elated. I will grant 4 stars to your what-might-have-beens for being ...more
I didn't realize until just now that Mary Crow Dog (née Mary Brave Bird) died in February this year.

This is her first autobiography describing her life up to 1977. She wrote a second autobiography, Ohitika Woman, a few years after Lakota Woman, and I imagine I'll get around to reading it at some point too. I was interested in reading this now as I'm winding down on Native American literature I'm reading this month. The other books I've read this month have been non-fiction of a different sort -
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ian by: Rainbowheart
Lakota Woman is important and even though it was written 30 years ago it is still very much topical and current.
Because the basic human rights the Lakota people were fighting for 50 years ago they are still fighting for today.
The obvious example is the Dakota Access Pipeline. The original route took it past Bismarck but I guess the good white folks complained about the threat to their water supply and the route was changed taking it along the border of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-us, biography
This is an interesting and moving book, capturing the life a women in the midst of the American Indian Movement in the 1970's. She describes life on the reservation as a younger woman and details the harrowing and sordid quality of life, revealing the poverty, struggle and rampant racism of her native South Dakota. Moved by the activism of A.I.M., she gives a first hand accounts of the Trail of Broken Treaties and the seizure of Wounded Knee, the 71 day event in 1973, which, though sadly produce ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

This is a raw and eye-opening book, though it’s as much manifesto as it is memoir; it’s partly about the author’s life, with a focus on various injustices she’s experienced or witnessed, and partly about the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1970s. The author grew up poor on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, was forced to attend one of those boarding schools meant to eradicate Native American culture, and wound up joining AIM as a teenager and having a baby during the siege a
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
"A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors nor how strong their weapons." Cheyenne proverb

The history of the American Indian Movement (AIM) was like a lot of social/racial justice movements, especially in how much fear and loathing such movements evoked from the larger society and from law enforcement. What I've always been fascinated by is the role of women in these movements. Oftentimes their voices and contribu
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I learned a lot about Native American culture and traditions from this book and about the AIM (American Indian Movement) in the 70s. Mary Crow Dog explains in detail the rituals and ceremonies of the Sioux, the spiritual values of their people, their stories and legends, medicine remedies etc. Her story is simply (but effectively) told. One might question whether her retelling of the events at Wounded Knee is entirely objective but one thing is clear: Mary Crow Dog’s anger and reasons are unders ...more
As someone who shamefully doesn't know a lot about American Indian history, I learned a lot from this book! This is written almost as a transcribed oral history piece, as each chapter seemed to have its own theme (minus the first chapter, which was all over the place) and the timeline wasn't totally linear. The book read as if she were sitting there telling stories of the things that happened in her life, as opposed to the book being crafted and organized on paper. As a result, there were many t ...more
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book several times in the past and really, really enjoyed reading it again. Mary Crow Dog's courage, integrity and strength are amazingly inspiring. After having done quite a bit of cultural studies, this time it gave me also a real felt sense of the predicament of Native American culture, and with that large parts of the world population, of the difficult struggle in leap-frogging stages of development and the suffering this creates. And perhaps it was also nagging my Objibway an ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book has opened my eyes, it has allowed me to see the history of the American Indian. A history filled with affliction and agony. I was surprised to learn how naive I was about American Indian history; the two weeks spent in High school learning about the American Indians do no justice to all the torture these beautiful people and culture have gone through. This book allowed me to see that manifest destiny was just an excuse for the "white man" to steal land, exploit Indians, rape and kill ...more
May 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Well, I don't care for how the book is written entirely. It is repetitive at times and jumps all over the place as she remembers her life. It's awfully depressing. But I think it is crucial that people read it because of the truth it contains. People do not know what happened to Native Americans even within our lifetimes. People are taught that the mistreatment of Native Americans is a thing of the past, but it is surprising exactly how badly they have been treated even in the past 50 years. It ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: native-american
This is a really interesting memoir about Mary Crow Dog, who was with the American Indian Movement's siege of Wounded Knee in the 1970's. Amidst gunfire, she chose to stay and give birth to her child. It seems crazy, but she probably would have been arrested upon leaving, then would have been involuntarily sterilized after giving birth. That was the typical practice at the local Pine Ridge Hospital.

From Mary Crow Dog's account, I learned that on the Pine Ridge reservation in the 70's, houses we
Nov 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
I might put this book down and try it again later - it has such amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I was unable to get into it. If I find that I'm avoiding reading, I know it's time to move on to another book. It's very hard to grasp when in time she is writing about, and I have to keep trying to do the math to decide what year the stories are taking place.

I noticed, both on a documentary I watched about the Trail of Tears and this book, that many of the Native Americans interviewed sp
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
German/English review, English review below:


Wie ich zu dem Buch gekommen bin:
Ich habe in meinem Twitter Feed einen Link zu dem Film, der auf diesem Buch basiert, gesehen und dann diesen Film ich denke 5-6 Mal gesehen, und war so ergriffen von der Geschichte von Mary Crow Dog, dass ich beschlossen habe, ich muss dieses Buch lesen. Und so kam es, dass ich dieses Buch gelesen habe, was ein einziger Tweet doch so ausrichten kann.

Erster Satz:
A nation is not conquered until
the hearts of it
Aug 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Mary Crow Dog is a half-Native America woman who grew up in the poverty of a South Dakota reservation, near Pine Ridge. Without a father, and uncertain of her identity, Mary Crow Dog tells the story of being a woman in a fiercely macho society intent on raising warriors. She tells of the historical struggle of her people - the Oglala Sioux - against the United States government, and the abuse she suffered in Catholic schools. Mary Crow Dog provides insight into the hopelessness and helplessness ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017

One of the reasons I read about Native Americans, especially in the 20th century, is that my mom is a registered American Indian and spent some time on a reservation. I don't know her side of the family well, but I feel drawn to our history.

Mary Crow Dog grew up poor, on a reservation, in South Dakota. Ongoing attempts to assimilate Indian people to white culture include sending kids away to boarding school, where oftentimes they were mistreated and, it seems, the nuns tried to "beat the red
Jul 13, 2009 rated it liked it
This is another garage sale purchase. Though at first I was a little upset by Mary Crow Dog's anger, by the time I concluded the memior, I understood. I learned so much about the plight of native Americans, their misuse at the hands of the US government and the importance and meaning of their traditional ceremonies that I feel a deep regard for these people. Even if the book is exaggerated and not quite objective (and I do not know that), it is an insightful look into the lives of important Amer ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Sioux and elephants never forget.” So says, Mary Crow Dog formally Mary Brave Bird a Sicangu Lakota of the Rose Bud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. 'Lakota Woman' is her memoir that was written in 1979 was not published until 1990 as the timing for a radical indigenous woman was not ripe after the turbulent decade of Indian civil rights movement or AIM (American Indian Movement) of the 1970s which had leapt back into the national psyche with the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties and the 1973 In ...more
This book is different from any other book I've ever read. This is a book based on a series of interviews, then turned into a non-fiction biography. It's Mary Crow Dog's life experiences as a Lakota Sioux woman, as a member of the AIM movement, of being the wife of a revered medicine man and chief, and of her struggles with being an American Indian. It is a recent account - all events taken place by the mid 1970s. And that is what is most alarming and disturbing about the book - the way American ...more
Dec 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This autobiography is a really cool window into Native American life, particularly the AIM movement, in the 1970s. It makes me crazy that the only Native American history we're taught in school ends after we learn about westward expansion. There are still Native Americans, they still have lives, and they're still getting dumped on a lot of the time. This book puts it in perspective a little bit.

Also, Mary Crow Dog was involved in two of the biggest AIM events of the 1970s the occupation of the
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
The author of this book, Mary Crow Dog, grew up in extreme poverty on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She ran away from the Indian school she was forced to attend in her teens and lived on the run for many years. She became involved in the early Indian rights incidents, including the take over of the BIA offices in Washington, DC, and the Wounded Knee site in the early 70s. I remember these incidents and I found it extremely interesting to read about Mary's inside view of what ha ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teens & adults
Recommended to Jessica by: my teacher
Lakota Woman is a true story. This is my absolute favorite book, I first read as a teen, read many times since then, every family member I've had read it and they all agreed it was a great depiction of an American Indian (Native American) woman's struggle in the late 1070;s during the height of the AIM movement. Mary was caught up in the movement, and was at the 2nd Wounded Knee where FBI agents had the Native's surrounded. It's good to hear another point of view since we mostly hear what's goin ...more
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
"I do not consider myself a radical or revolutionary. It is white people who put such labels on us. All we ever wanted was to be left alone, to live our lives as we see fit. To govern ourselves in reality and not just on paper. To have our rights respected. If that is revolutionary, then I sure fit that description. Actually, I have a great yearning to lead a normal, peaceful life--normal in the Sioux sense. I could have accepted our flimsy shack, our smelly outhouse, and our poverty--but only o ...more
Tami Lowe
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Can I give 6 stars?? Minus the flavorful swearwords, that actually I see as vital a lot of times---how else can you express it?, I was so affected. Any book I ever gave a 5 to has got to step down a bit to give this one of the highest ratings I've given to any other.

Maybe it's the recent trip to South Dakota, or the recent read of Crazy Horse and Custer. Or the 12 1/2% "indian" in me---but this is a story I wish had been required reading...I was only 4 when most of this took place, so how could
I wish that I'd kept this book so I could read it again. I gave my copy to a neighbor who was bedridden following surgery, and she passed it on to another friend. More contemporary than many stories of Native Americans, this shows the experiences of one woman who championed her people and her culture. ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is so powerful and important. A must-read, especially for Americans.
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The Jasmine Tea S...: Lakota Woman 1 10 Feb 16, 2014 06:47PM  

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Born Mary Ellen Moore-Richard in 1954 on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, she was a member of the Sicangu Oyate, also known as the Burnt Thighs Nation or Brulé Band of Lakota. She was raised primarily by her grandparents while her mother studied in nursing school and was working.

Brave Bird was the author of two memoirs, Lakota Woman (1990) and Ohitika Woman (1993). Richard Erdoes, a l

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