Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Plenty-Coups Autobiography as told to Frank Linderman and sensational Spirit-Dance video

It's time to step out of your box, book-lovers. This autobiography blew me away. Initially, the black and white -well, grayish really- cover with the archaic-looking, bad-hair-day Indian on the front made me dread reading this for school. Was I ever in the wrong mind about it! This is the BEST non-fiction book I have EVER read!

Plenty-Coups, Chief of the Crows, is an account  recorded by Frank B. Linderman of the chief telling his life story at the age of 80. Plenty-Coups was born about the time white people were settling in the East part of America but he didn't encounter them until around his late twenties when they reached the Northwest. He was given the privilege of living wild and free as a young Crow boy, warrior, and Chief. What shocked me was how much freedom he had as a boy. At age nine he went on a journey to fast and pray alone - miles and miles. He climbed a butte, fasted and prayed until he received his "vision" but was too weak to return to his tribe. So what does a nine year old do in a situation like that? Well, if you are Plenty-Coups (who at the time was still named Buffalo Bull Facing the Wind), you cut off the end of your finger so that the blood will attract vultures and your family will find you by following the birds! What?  Yep, that's what he did and that's just when he was a kid.

He was given the name Plenty-Coups after his vision quest because he was destined to "strike-coup" many times. That means he would quickly take over other tribes. Indian warriors wouldn't just go in for the kill - no, they would ride up and smack the other warriors in the face with their horse whip to start the fight. I just crack up thinking about the smile they must have had riding away after - whack!  It's on-Like Donkey-Kong!

His story goes on to tell of many battles over land and horse stealing between tribes but takes a turn when the Crows decide to fight along with the American soldiers. Sadly they saw that they had to make an alliance with the soldiers for the survival of their tribe and preservation of their land. But, his telling of battles was like an action movie -Jumping on and off horses without stopping, firing his arrows at a run on the horse. I had to keep reminding myself that this was NOT fiction!  He scalped many men- never a white man but many other Indians he fought. This guy was WILD!

I'm saving my copy for my sons when they get older. So much was lost when they lost their way of life. Everything they did had ceremony, meaning and honor. They were taught by their uncles. If they didn't "get" something, they working with them until they got it - no "epic-fail's". Today we don't even let our boys cross the street. We have to find ways to instill honor, bravery, and valor in our boys (without the violence) so that they can be warriors in their own way, protect their families and their way of life.

I give Plenty-Coups Photobucket

While this man is not Crow, but Lakota, it's awesome to witness the love Native American's have for the earth and their ceremonies


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