We are pleased to announce the publication of Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011), edited by Diane Wilson, which features a chapter on Oak Lake Writer Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan’s activism and includes her poem “Star Spirit.” YouTube features a video of Gabrielle reading from the collection at a book launch event at the St. Paul Episcopal Church also hosted by Birchbark Books in Minneapolis.
The blurb from the book describes its scope: Far greater even than the loss of land, or the relentless coercion to surrender cultural traditions, the deaths of over six hundred children by the spring of 1864 were an unbearable tragedy. Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, Dakota people are still struggling with the effects of this unimaginable loss.”Among the Dakota, the Beloved Child ceremony marked the special, tender affection that parents felt toward a child whose life had been threatened. In this moving book, author Diane Wilson explores the work of several modern Dakota people who are continuing to raise beloved children: Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan, an artist and poet; Clifford Canku, a spiritual leader and language teacher; Alameda Rocha, a boarding school survivor; Harley and Sue Eagle, Canadian activists; and Delores Brunelle, an Ojibwe counselor. each of these humble but powerful people teaches children to believe in the “genius and brilliance” of Dakota culture as a way of surviving historical trauma.Crucial to true healing, Wilson has learned, is a willingness to begin with yourself. Each of these people works to transform the effects of genocide, restoring a way of life that regards our beloved children as wakan, sacred.
The Minneapolis StarTribune Review of the volume notes Gabrielle’s contribution:
Another Dakota, Gaby Tateyuskanskan, embraces nonviolent protest as a vehicle to change the way Native Americans are treated. “It’s easy to be angry; it’s easy to lash out,” notes Gaby, “It’s so much harder to … [compassionately] teach somebody or influence somebody to change what they’re doing.” Dakota like Gaby and Sue Eagle, and others that Wilson describes, pursue healing by seeking to understand their own family’s past and the trauma suffered by the Dakota. Wilson explains that they aren’t attacking the dominant western culture, but they’re consciously embracing the Dakota way, which is to get close to the land, to use oral traditions, to acknowledge the self-loathing that has been hard-wired into their brains, and to choose another, more compassionate way to define themselves
–Chuck Leddy, Minneapolis StarTribune, September 1, 2011