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Tatanka and the Lakota People
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South Dakota State Historical Society Press
Pub Date: 2006
ISBN: 9780982274903
Donald F. Montileaux
Tatanka and the Lakota People
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Tatanka and the Lakota People

by Donald F. Montileaux

The introduction to this beautifully illustrated text explains the narrative oral storytelling of the Lakota people, known as Ohunkakan, this is the basis of this text. The story itself, offered in both English and Lakota, begins with the great spirit Skan who created the Lakota ancestors. Subsequent pages follow the birth of humanity through its acquisition of knowledge, love of children and family, and finally, understanding that life comes with responsibility. In the case of the ancestors, the elders decide that their purpose will derive from respecting and caring for the Spirits. It is at this time, too, that the people become Pte Oyate--the Buffalo Nation.

For a length of time, the Pte Oyate live within the underworld, but eventually, Spider (Trickster) sends Wolf to a young warrior in order to encourage the man to go to the surface. When Tokahe the warrior takes his people to the surface, they find themselves emerging in the Black Hills and facing a much harder life than they had lived in the underworld. Tatanka, who had stayed behind, has a bleak vision concerning his people and eventually comes to the surface in buffalo form, to provide them with food, shelter, and clothing. The illustrations for this book follow the flat two-dimensional style of the traditional buffalo hides of Montileaux's ancestors. This is a beautifully presented book that is a must read for those interested in Native Americans history and folklore, especially as they pertain to the Lakota of South Dakota. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.