Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life

Nov 6th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-2: The Future of the Tribal College Movement, Media Reviews

By Diane Wilson
Borealis Books (2011)

Review by Dr. Kelly Sassi

The 150th anniversary of the United States-Dakota war in Minnesota in 2012 motivated Diane Wilson (Mdewakanton descendant) to gather the stories of several Dakota people who are striving to overcome this legacy of trauma in positive ways.

The concept uniting the stories in Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life, is that of a traditional Dakota ceremony, “beloved child” (hunka). By contrasting the Dakota love for a child as expressed through this ceremony with the historical trauma of the thousands of Indian children who have died in wars and boarding schools, Wilson sought healing for herself.

In her book, she explores the meaning of this ceremony through the stories of Harley and Sue Eagle, Clifford Canku, Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan, Delores Brunelle, and Alameda Rocha.

Beloved Child would make a good nonfiction selection for a college writing class; Wilson’s storytelling provides a good model for students and the themes of identity search, trauma, and healing will resonate with young adults.

Kelly Sassi, Ph.D., is assistant professor of English and education at North Dakota State University.

 

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