“Her Own Words” Videos CelebrateTraditions

May 15th, 1996 | By | Category: 8-1: Governance, Media Reviews

Video Reviews by Devona Lone Wolf

These videos feature the songs and stories of Winnebago Women, but their stories and relationships could apply to people everywhere. Instructors could us them for history, culture, and human development studies. Excellent examples of the oral tradition, the stories are told by the women who experienced them rather than as interpretations by others. These films bring back something we need to do in our own families. The length ranged from 15 minutes to 22 minutes, which makes them attractive for viewing in the classroom or at home.


In this film, the sisters share their perspectives on their experiences growing up. The sisters discuss openly and honestly how their friendship did not develop until later in life and other aspects of their life that are very real.


This film explores the importance of mothers and grandmothers and their relationships to other members of the family. Feelings and thoughts are shared by daughters and granddaughters about these special women in their lives. They taught cooking, songs, and provided the base for cultural beliefs and behavior. The story of one grandmother and her approach to life reminded me of my grandmother.


This is an enjoyable film about friendship between women from childhood to adulthood. The first friendship, which spanned 60 years, came about through a tragedy of the death of a sister. In the second story the two women share stories about the land, the fruit that was picked, and the teachings of their parents. They also discuss the changes they had seen in the land and compared them to their lives today.  In the third story, the women share humorous experiences about digging in the garbage while visiting Yellowstone. They also discuss singing and attending pow-wows.


In this film, the story of the woman and her family also conveys the history of the people and their relationship to the land and sky. Wolf Woman shares many stories of gathering the foods, places she lived, the relationship between family members, and other traditional activities. She speaks of her thoughts and feelings surrounding her boarding school experiences and her marriages.


This film opens with a haunting song, which introduces the stories of four women. They tell of a beaded buckskin dress made by a mother whose eyesight was failing when she made it. The dress carries special significance for the daughter, feelings I understand because my grandmothers helped me make my first buckskin dress. A woman who began school without knowing how to speak English shares her story about how she learned to make traditional clothes and how she adapted her skills to fashioning contemporary clothes, which provide her with an income.

The third woman relates how she learned the art of beadwork as well as patience from her mother and grandmother. She now teaches others so that the art will not be lost. The fourth story covers the art of basketry and how the family is involved with the whole process. The finished baskets are amazing when you remember they are made without nails or glue, just wood. The stories in this film are not just about craft work but about history, relationships, and culture.

Devona Lone Wolf (Oglala Lakota) is an Alcohol/Drug Abuse and Psychology Instructor at Oglala Lakota College.

Resource Guides are available with the videos. The guides contain the full script of the video, viewing notes and an introduction to each video, dozens of discussion questions, primary-source readings, background material, glossary, bibliography for further research, and overhead-transparency masters. For more information, contact Jocelyn Riley, producer, Her Own Words, P.O. Box 5264, Madison WI 53705. Phone 608 271-7083.

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