Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly 33:3 (Summer 2013)


© 2013 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska


Old-style, mainline anthropologists will probably not like this book. It is certainly not old-style anthropology. It is much, much more important than that. That White Hat fails to cite any of the pertinent literature on Lakotas is much beside the point; indeed, he indicates clearly that he does not much care for all of that literature as a means for finding meaning in Lakota life. White Hat is Siċangú Lakota and writes from deep within the Siċangú Lakota traditional knowledge. That is the importance of this book. Others have also written from within the Lakota world, even interpreters or so-called medicine men like John Fire Lame Deer or Peter Catches, but again, this volume is different.

Most importantly, White Hat writes as an extremely proficient linguist who has dedicated his life to understanding the linguistic intricacies of what is, after all, his Native Lakota tongue. He not only grew up speaking the language but also dedicated much of his adult life to listening to fluent elders talk the language and talk about the language. In particular, this book records his learning about the richness of the Lakota culture and its ceremonial traditions and the intricacies of the language, learning he gained from listening to a broad array of interpreters (medicine men).