“THE GIRL WHO SANG to the BUFFALO” By Kent Nerburn, a Review by Joan Adamak

Beautiful story, but is it real?
     Although I searched this book, I could not determine whether it was fiction or non-fiction.  It didn’t state one way or the other.  This author has written fifteen other books relative to Native Americans and this is the third book in a particular series.
     I have a very good woman friend who is Native American, and I know the humor that is shown in this book is typical of them.  She also seeks advice from a Medicine Man from time to time.  I know also that it is true that for years our government men yanked Indian children out of their homes and sent them to boarding schools where they were not allowed to speak their own language or practice their own religions in a deliberate attempt to erase all of their heritage, and the discipline was most severe.
     This story begins with the same dream that the author had been having which shows him that he must find an old woman, Mary Johnson, who knows something about Yellow Bird, sister of Dan, a Lakota elder, who disappeared when both she and Dan had been uprooted from their tribe.  After much searching among tribal members who had known Mary, the author learns that Yellow Bird had been sent to the Hiawatha Insane Asylum for the Indians in Canton because the nuns on the rez thought she was mentally ill because she couldn’t seem to talk, hear, or understand but she could communicate with birds and animals.  No Indian who ever entered that institution left it alive and when the author went there , there were one hundred twenty-one names for Indians who had been buried in its graveyard, which had never been tended to and the asylum had been torn down.
     This story is full of pathos, descriptions, personalities, and explanations of a culture that most non-Indians have no awareness of, other than that our Native Americans have a deep spirituality inherent in them that cannot be denied, if not understood.
     I laughed and cried through this book.  The author did an excellent job of bringing to life this story and I highly recommend it.
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