'Grandpa was a Cowboy & an Indian & Other Stories'
ROSEBUD SIOUX RESERVATION, S.D. - Finding a balance between tradition and today's society can be a challenge in the fast paced world we live in. The youth of today face many challenges that may seem very different from those of their ancestors, but upon closer examination, many trials closely resemble the past. Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve's "Grandpa was a Cowboy & an Indian & Other Stories" is an attempt to couple the stories and traditions of years past with the reality of today's modern youth.
The work reads very easily and it is appropriate for all ages. It is divided into three parts. First, "Generations" is modern adaptations of stories where youth can gain insight into some of the many lessons to be learned from elders and history. The second section, entitled "Long Ago," features stories from the early years. And the final section ends with ancient Sioux tales and "Legends" as the section is described. Elders can delight in the legends and lessons they remember from their own youth.
The short story format keeps the reader's attention from beginning to end. Also with each story separated from each other, readers can pick up the book and flip to their favorite story for a quick inspirational tale. For those who wish to read the entire collection, the 116-page book is a fast and fun read. Included with the stories is a two-page glossary with phonetic pronunciation of several Lakota and Dakota words used throughout the compilation.
A shining example of the balance between the old and the new is the story, "The Twelve Moons" from the "Generations" section. In this story, Carmen is given a school assignment to describe the months as her Lakota ancestors may have done. She has to come up with descriptions of each month and is pleasantly surprised to see how close her names are to the actual Lakota names given long ago. Sneve begins each of the stories in the "Long Ago" section with a description of the time of year with the Lakota month names just like Carmen learned in her grade school class. This tie-in and repetition is a very subtle reminder of how much children can learn from the past and by studying and reading the lessons of the elders.
While all the characters in the stories are fictional many are based upon actual people and events. One story, "Fool Soldiers" is a dramatization of the 1862 Minnesota Sioux uprising.
Sneve grew up on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and learned many of the customs of the Lakota and Dakota from her grandparents. She added in the author's note, "Legends were told to teach a lesson as well as to entertain ? They showed the importance of proper behavior or explained the beginnings of plants and animals and indeed all of creation."
Sneve is the author of more than 20 books and many short stories and essays about American Indian culture. She has won numerous awards including the North American Indian Prose Award for her memoir "Completing the Circle" and the National Humanities Award.