Lakota Woman Summary
The story of Mary “Brave Woman” Crow Dog is told in the narrative Lakota Woman, chronicling the author’s struggle with her mixed-raced identity in a culture that places an extraordinary value on pure Native American blood. While her mother longs for her to learn the traditions and cultures of her white father’s society, Mary feels isolated and disconnected from that part of herself. Instead, she reaches out to her older family members on her mother’s side and tries to learn the ways of the Sioux. While her journey is marked with rejection and hatred, she ultimately is accepted by her mother’s tribe.
Mary tells of her work with the American Indian Movement, a member of which she had a relationship with and became pregnant. Though the father left her before her son was born, the child would serve as a source of hope for the tribe. Because he was born on a sacred site, that of the Wounded Knee Massacre, he represents the hope for a generation to succeed and thrive. Mary weds Leonard Crow Dog, a prominent member of the Native American community. No matter how much white culture she experiences, she still feels most comfortable on the reservation with her family.
Ultimately, Mary’s experiences are the same as those experienced by countless Native Americans. Her struggle to assimilate with white society, only to cast those traditions off in favor of her Native American culture, is one that many Native Americans faced. The struggle to fit into a culture where one is not wanted, whether it was Mary trying to fit into white society or that of her mother’s tribal ancestry, is mirrored in the experiences of countless immigrants. Lakota Woman, while a story of a Native American woman, tells of the experiences shared by any outsiders of a given community.