name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Lisa
for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the
injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United
States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and
outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a
role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real
names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of
adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th
is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about:
the Sioux people. The people we know as the Sioux were originally known as the
Dakota, which means ally. The name Sioux came from the Chippewa and the French.
The Chippewa called them Nadonessiou,
which means adder, or enemy, and then the French shortened the name to Sioux.
culture has an origin myth. We in the West have Adam and Eve. The Ancient
Greeks had Gaia. According to the Norse people, Odin and Ymir founded the earth.
If you will allow me, I’d like to tell you the creation story of the Dakota.
the creation of the earth, the gods resided in the sky and humans lived in
darkness. Chief among the gods was Ta՜kuwakaŋ, the Sun, who was married to Haŋyetuwi,
the Moon. He had one daughter, Wohpe. And there was Old Man and Old Woman,
whose daughter, Ite, was wife to
Wind, to whom she gave four sons, the Four Winds.
the most important was Iŋktomi, the devious trickster. Iŋktomi conspired with
Old Man and Old Woman to increase their daughter’s status by arranging an
affair between the Sun and Ite. His wife’s discovery of the affair led Ta՜kuwakaŋ
to give the Moon her own domain, and by separating her from himself, created
husband—were banished to Earth. Ite, along with her children, the Four Winds,
and a fifth wind—the child of Ite but not of Wind—established space. The
daughter of the Sun and the Moon, Wohpe, also fell to earth and later resided
with the South Wind. The two adopted the fifth wind, who was called Wamŋiomŋi.
formed Earth, some of the gods became bored. Ite prevailed upon Iŋktomi to find her people, the Buffalo Nation. In
the form of a wolf, Iŋktomi went
beneath the earth and discovered a village of humans. Iŋktomi told them about the wonders of the Earth and convinced one
man, Tokahe, to accompany him through a cave to the surface. Tokahe did so and,
upon reaching the surface, saw the green grass and blue sky for the first time.
Iŋktomi and Ite introduced Tokahe to buffalo meat and showed him tipis,
clothing, hunting clubs, and bows and arrows. Tokahe returned to the underworld
village and appealed to six other men and their families to go with him to the
discovered that Iŋktomi had deceived Tokahe. The buffalo were scarce; the
weather had turned bad, and they found themselves starving. Unable to return to
their home, but armed with a new knowledge about the world, they survived to
become the founders of the Seven Council Fires.
. . . or Oćeti Šakowiŋ . . . are the Mdewakanton, the Wahpeton, the Wahpekute, the
Sisseton, the Yankton, the Yanktonai, and the Lakota.
families to the surface of the earth, they wandered for many winters. Sons were
born and sons died. Winters passed, more winters than could be counted. That
was before Oćeti Šakowiŋ. But not until White Buffalo Calf Woman did the humans
the buffalo when they came to the top of a small hill. A long way off, they observed
the figure of a woman. As she approached, they saw that she was beautiful. She
was young and carried a wakiŋ. One of
the scouts had lustful thoughts and told the other. His friend told him that
she was sacred and to banish such thoughts.
them and said to the one with the lustful thoughts, “If you would do what you
are thinking, come forward.” The scout moved and stood before her and a white
cloud covered them from sight.
from the cloud, it blew away. There on the ground, at the beautiful woman’s
feet, lay a pile of bones with worms crawling in and among them.
scout to go to his village and tell his people that she was coming, for them to
build a medicine tipi large enough to hold all the chiefs of the nation. She
said, “I bring a great gift to your people.”
the scout’s story, they constructed the lodge, and put on their finest
clothing, then stood about the lodge and waited.
village, she sang:
a pipe from the bundle. On one side of the pipe was carved a bison calf. “The
bison represents the earth, which will house and feed you,” she said.
hung from the wooden stem. White Buffalo Calf Woman told the chiefs, “The
feathers represent the sky and the thirteen moons. With this pipe, you shall
prosper. With this pipe, you shall speak with Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka (God). With this pipe, you shall become The People.
With this pipe, you shall be bound with the Earth for She is your mother. She
is sacred. With this pipe, you shall be bound to your relatives.”
the People, and having said what she had to say, she turned and walked four
paces from the lodge and sat down.
a red-and-brown buffalo calf. She walked on, lay down and came up as a black
buffalo calf. Walking still farther, she turned into a white buffalo and stood
upon a hill. She turned to bow in the four directions of the four winds and
then she vanished.
of White Buffalo Calf Woman, the Dakota honor our mother the Earth; they honor
their parents and their grandparents. They honor the birds of the sky; they
honor the beasts of the earth. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka resides in all animals, in all trees and plants and
rocks and stones. Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka is in
all. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka lives
in each of us.
of White Buffalo Calf Woman, they have become Dakota.
Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and
Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided
to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume
collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching
adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR
GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively
entitled, MICK REILLY.