... in S. D. Nelson's Greet the Dawn the Lakota Way. Why, you wonder? Simple. As a Pueblo Indian kid growing up on our reservation in New Mexico, I rode a yellow school bus just like that. Illustrations like that make me smile because they reflect my reality, my personal experience, my life as a Native child. Native children today need that sort of thing because it provides them with a mirror of who they are.
On the facing page, several children run towards the bus. Some are carrying band instruments! Again! That was me! Carrying my clarinet!
Here's the cover for Nelson's book:
Ok.... more reminiscing. My grandfather, dad, uncle and brothers had horses that we rode around the reservation. We laugh today, remembering Perla, the mare that would simply lay down to get rid of us. I vividly recall feeling the shift in her bones at that moment when she decided she was going to lay down. We'd have to pull our legs up quick-like and be ready to leap off. And of course, we were riding in the same sort of clothes the kids on the cover of Greet the Dawn are wearing.
The beauty in Nelson's book is that he puts our existence in the present day, but through his art, he conveys the fact that in our communities, we are in touch with our identity as Native people whose spiritualities--across our many nations--are unique, vibrant, and, like the air we breathe, all around us.
Another couple of huge plus factors for Nelson's book is that it includes Lakota songs, in Lakota and English. And, he notes the source for the songs in "A Note about the Illustrations and the Text" in the back of the book. He takes care, in other words, to point us to his sources. There's no ambiguity in what he says.
One last comment... the page where a family is shown outside at night, welcoming the moon? An elder is shown, sitting on a folding chair. That is another familiar image, firmly grounded in my reality.
Order a copy today from a small bookstore, like Louise Erdrich's Birchbark Books. Greet the Dawn the Lakota Way was published in 2012 by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press.
Oh! Forgot to include the trailer. Here it is:
And... Nelson is Standing Rock Sioux.