April 12, 2012
The Lakota Way of Strength and Courage by Joseph M. Marshall III
This was a very interesting book. I have a traditional longbow, and while I'm sorely remiss in using it much, I still have a great appreciation for bowmakers and the actual bow itself. Not that this book is really about the bows in a traditional sense. It's more of a commentary on how the bow and arrow relates to life and also about the Lakota people as well.
This book has two main topics; the life of the Lakota and their resiliency and history and how it relates to to the bow and arrow, and also stories and legends of the Lakota. There is a story of a young warrior, learning to be a great scout from his grandmother. Another of the "shirt men" of the tribe and how they contributed and were selfless in their acts for others. A little bit of the history of the Lakota is shown, and their erosion of culture due to the outside influence of the English. But the author talks about how the culture and histories are preserved, even in small ways.
The stories were some of my favorite parts within this book. I always find cultural legends fascinating and they always seem to impart a good lesson the reader. These were no different and I think I almost learned more from these than I did the rest of the book. I especially liked the story of two men that traveled to find a shiny rock and the dangers they faced along the way. They went on faith in what someone told them and even though the journey was difficult, they became good friends as a result and even had a pretty good story to tell when they got home!
The other part of the book was a little more rambling in its tone. The author switched up what he was talking about and it didn't flow as smoothly. Which made the lessons a little more difficult to understand. I also found it difficult to connect to some of what he was saying as I have no native blood or culture in my life and so some of the concepts were not relatable. But there were still some very good lessons despite all this. I especially liked what the author had to say about resiliency. He liked life to a bow and that when it shoots an arrow it always returns to its normal position, ready to take what life throws at it again. And that strong people can be the same way. I think it's the most important lesson of the book (and it should be considering it's part of the title).
A very interesting book. I enjoyed the author's take on the bow and arrow and the meaning behind it; it's not just a weapon but a way of life. And I learned more about the Lakota than I had ever learned before.
The Lakota Way of Strength & Courage