Read Waterlily: New Edition by Ella Cara Deloria SusanGardner Raymond J. Demallie Online


When Blue Bird and her grandmother leave their family’s camp to gather beans for the long, threatening winter, they inadvertently avoid the horrible fate that befalls the rest of the family. Luckily, the two women are adopted by a nearby Dakota community and are eventually integrated into their kinship circles. Ella Cara Deloria’s tale follows Blue Bird and her daughter, WWhen Blue Bird and her grandmother leave their family’s camp to gather beans for the long, threatening winter, they inadvertently avoid the horrible fate that befalls the rest of the family. Luckily, the two women are adopted by a nearby Dakota community and are eventually integrated into their kinship circles. Ella Cara Deloria’s tale follows Blue Bird and her daughter, Waterlily, through the intricate kinship practices that created unity among her people.Waterlily, published after Deloria’s death and generally viewed as the masterpiece of her career, offers a captivating glimpse into the daily life of the nineteenth-century Sioux. This new Bison Books edition features an introduction by Susan Gardner and an index....

Title : Waterlily: New Edition
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780803219045
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 251 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Waterlily: New Edition Reviews

  • Maria Catherino
    2018-12-05 02:19

    Waterlily is an important and complex book. It isn't quite historical record nor does it read like most historical fiction. Deloria vividly recreates everyday life for the Dakotas in the nineteenth-century from field research and interviews. She tells the story of Blue Bird, her daughter Waterlily, and, their society built of kinship rules. A difficult read the point lies less in development of characters and more in the development of the time period. This is further complicated by the fact the Deloria herself never saw publication of this book. Constant criticism to cut down the length and cut scenes that would not interest white audiences led her to many rewrites never coming together in a “publishable” version in her lifetime. Deloria faced significant challenges completing her work. Being both a woman and a Sioux Indian never received the credit she deserved for her invaluable contributions to ethnology. Waterlily is a triumph. It is the masterwork of Ella Deloria. What it lacks in modern readability it more than makes up in it's invaluable historical significance and in the harrowing history of the manuscript itself. Waterlily: New Edition

  • Sarah
    2018-11-11 05:32

    The first Native American(another powerful Sioux woman) to become a linguist and to scientifically put Sioux language on the map. Her family is still strong within both the Dakota and the academic community.(one of her descendents, Vine DeLoria headed the American Indian Law Dept at Berkeley). This is a coming of age novel set in the Dakota community around the time when the first western settlers were coming to what we now call the US. What is beautiful and endearing about this book is that it is through the eyes of a young woman becoming an adult and it centers on the Lakota community-not on the conflict between European settlers and the Natives. It is a peek inside the native world before it would be changed forever.

  • Gina
    2018-11-28 03:14

    I wouldn't read this primarily for its literary merits, I would read it to learn about the Dakota way of life through an anthropological lens. That said, I did come to genuinely believe in and care about the characters, so the book is not *without* literary merit. I never got bored. Ella Deloria stops at least once a page to explain the customs of the characters, which interrupts the narrative, but because I actually wanted to learn about these customs, I didn't mind that. I loved it. And I am now totally obsessed with the very different outlook presented in this novel. I think she does a good job of showing a very different way of life without editorializing. She doesn't put Dakota values up on a pedestal, nor does she seem in any way judgmental of them. She leaves that to her readers. I came away wishing my own culture possessed the wisdom and beauty of many Dakota practices, while at the same time being able to recognize the things that would make growing up in that culture frustrating. There is no such thing as a perfect culture, but it is nice to be exposed to alternatives.

  • Melanie
    2018-12-07 06:10

    I'm reading this for a book discussion. It was not one that I would normally have chosen. However, I quickly got drawn into Blue Bird and Waterlily's story. I saw other reviews say that this was slow moving, and I can only think this is because it is about an ordinary life. I found Waterlily beautifully written, and I gained much appreciation for the Sioux way of life.

  • Will Waller
    2018-12-06 02:18

    This book was read in preparation of my upcoming trip to South Dakota in January for an immersion to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Reading this book on Lakota life really opened up new doors for me. I don't think I've ever read anything about Native Americans, much less such a lucid novel about one woman in the tribe. The writing is clear and to the point without much fluff. It's written by 1/4 Indian in the 20th century who had done significant ethnography on Lakotas and their language. It's something I certainly never would have picked up unless I had been assigned it for my trip. What I'm struck by is that they are (to most readers of Indian literature this will be a no-brainer) quite known for their artwork and for their spiritual nature, although this doesn't come across as strongly for the women in the tipospaye (the tipi circle). For the women, they are very industrious in keeping and storing the meat and provide a safe haven for their men. Many of the women are laconic, which I did not know, but care deeply for their kinsmen. A good read but because I'm a 21st century male, who has been deeply affected by Michael Bay and Steven Spielburg this book was a tough slog.

  • Mel McDaniel
    2018-11-10 04:34

    A simple, yet insightful, look at Sioux life. Struck yet again by the beauty, restraint and complex social rules of the Sioux way. The hospitality, the responsibility, the strong sense of community is all portrayed in rich detail. A way of life that disappeared so our way could come - what shame and sadness.

  • devin strauch
    2018-11-13 00:29

    I learned so much from this book! It gives such a good view into the workings of a Dakota family.

  • Judy
    2018-11-27 00:24

    This is a "must read" for anyone interested in plains history. An authentic picture of Native American Life, written by a Native American with a ph.d

  • Jay
    2018-11-19 04:13

    This is a great showpiece of Dakota culture at the turn of the century. So much culture is expressed in the story of a young woman - it is calculated to capture as much of the culture as possible in the story of Waterlily from birth up to her second marriage. Just a great book; I wanted to live inside it's world more than any book I've read in a good long time. (March 16, 2012)On a second reading, I am again struck by the careful construction Deloria had to exert in order to seamlessly integrate a reader completely unfamiliar with Dakota culture into their ways of life. The book focuses much on how children are raised, and indeed this is a good way to communicate a culture, since so much revolves around how children are raised, and what they grow up to be, within their cultures. Blue Bird and Waterlily's stories twist together with the other characters in the book so well that one understands what it is like to not only grow up as a privileged and beloved female, but also as an abandoned one, and as a male in all aspects, communicated through Waterlily's interactions with her brothers, cousins, and husbands. The single Waterlily character represents growing up as a woman in Dakota culture: it is clear that she is not a person, she is a living, breathing, metaphor who takes shape as a person because that is the best way to communicate the culture in which she lives. I would recommend this book for anyone middle school and older. The language itself would be challenging to a younger middle school reader, but easily handled by a high school reader. There is no foul language, sex scenes, or graphic violent scenes. Any death or violence (which must exist because it exits among the plains people and leaving it out would be leaving out a significant part of their culture)is artfully addressed and focuses more on the repercussions than on the events themselves.

  • Libby
    2018-12-10 06:22

    I really enjoyed reading this book. Ella Cara Deloria's character development of Waterlily allows the reader to see what her culture is like. I laughed when Waterlily and her family cheered on Lawanla as he was very brave and went throught the agonies of his first Sun Dance, and I was very sad for Sacred Horse when he faced the very long and cold night alone. I only have one complaint: this book should have been longer. There are so many other things about the Dakota Indians that I would still like to find out about. I'm very sorry that Ella Cara Deloria didn't write a squeal to Waterlily. I recoomend the book Waterlily to anyone that wants to find out more about the Dakota culture. My favorite character in this book is Waterlily. Because, even though she has to face tragedy throughout the book Waterlily goes forward with her life.

  • Julie Fischer
    2018-11-17 03:32

    An excellent historical fiction story, "Waterlily" By Ella Cara Deloria, amazed me at how these people lived in such a harsh environment. The manners they taught their children led to good people who were family oriented and respected both man and their environment. The young males dedicated themselves to their tribe by doing the Sun Dance where they lived through torturous acts. Females dedicated themselves to caring for their family as well as those in the tribe who needed their help also. There were many rituals which included their entire community, making them more dedicated to their society rules.

  • Maura W.
    2018-11-17 03:23

    This is a simple, placid read. It's more of a fictional biography than a novel, with no obvious ongoing conflict and no grandiose swoops of plot and arcs of character. Rather, the book is a subtle explanation and clarification of Dakota (Sioux) culture through the coming-of-age story of the main character, Waterlily. It's not a quick and easy read, but it is peaceful and satisfying. Even the bits about smallpox, in a weird sort of way.Waterlily is a very dignified book. If you like that sort of thing, check it out.

  • Michelle
    2018-11-25 03:19

    I thought that because it was an assigned reading for my native american history class that this book was going to be dry. I found it to be quite the opposite and really enjoyed learning about the family dynamics found in the Dakota tribe. I would highly recommend this story to anyone interested in learning more about Native Americans.

  • Jenni
    2018-11-29 06:37

    It is very interesting to read a story from the Native American point of view during the start of the "Manifest Destiny" era. While the writing style is a not my favorite, it is written in a way that anyone can understand. The severe lack of comparable novels makes this a must read, especially for anyone interested in the other side of Native American history which is not usually taught in k-12.

  • Brandie Larkin
    2018-11-16 04:32

    Read this many years ago, but I remember I absolutely loved it. I felt like I was in the lives and culture of the charactors. Deloria has extensive knowledge of Souix culture and translated it beautifully into what I believe to be (and sadly) her only novel

  • Connie
    2018-11-20 01:18

    The life of nomadic Sioux tribes is told from a woman's perspective. For someone who is interested in Native American history, this is a must read.

  • Deborah
    2018-12-05 02:19

    one of my most favorite books of all time

  • Fischwife
    2018-11-18 05:32

    Waterlily is a bit of a slow read at times, but it is an important and interesting story, since it documents the traditional lifestyles, customs, and social/kinship bonds of the Dakota people, via the vehicle of the tale of Waterlily. It also details some of the effects of contact, since Waterlily grows up in a community that has no contact with white settlers but lives for a time in a community that does. This is a story I wish everyone on Turtle Island could read to counteract the false ideas spread by Hollywood and history books.

  • Lukas Woodyard
    2018-12-10 22:29

    Narratives from anyone are very important, and this book truly showcases the power of perspective and history. I was not a fan of the ethnographic content and the self-censorship to cater to a popular audience when it was expected to be published, but Deloria is valid for writing this novel. Writing from a female perspective in the Dakota tribe is an exciting feat due to the rarity of it being published. I recommend this book to people who are interested in the Dakota culture or into enthonographies. I have a lot of criticisms about the narrative, but I truly respected this work.

  • AimlessLady
    2018-11-12 01:26

    This was an amazing read. Some nights I didn't want to put the book down because I wanted to know what happened next. Beautifully written. Loved the characters. Some scenes made me very sad and others made me very happy. Loved this. I wish the author was alive and could write more stories about the Dakota women.

  • Caitlin
    2018-11-12 02:21

    I'm not really sure how to rate this, or even how to categorize it. Not quite a novel, not quite an ethnography, but some fascinating blend of the two. It took a long, long time to read, but it felt worth it. Reminded me why I studied anthropology.

  • Laura Petersen
    2018-11-27 03:24

    Informative book with a good story.

  • Michelle Boyer
    2018-11-19 01:38

    Waterlily remains a novel that I struggle with on multiple levels. To begin, if I were rating the novel entirely on its plot or as a "just for fun" read then I think that my rating would be different. However, I'm taking into consideration my use of this novel in my Ph.D. Comprehensive Exams and therefore am rating it based on its merit as part of the American Indian Literary canon. And, in that respect, I have some troubles that don't allow me to get past a 3-star rating. The novel itself is about Blue Bird and Waterlily, a mother and daughter that are living a traditional Dakota (Sioux) lifestyle prior to European contact. There are many interesting moments within the plot that make the story itself quite moving. I was particularly fond of the scene in which Waterlily is born--which gives cultural information about Dakota birthing, naming, etc. It ties directly to the main theme of the novel: kinship. But let me begin with some of the "problems" that I find with this novel, which make me doubt the full authenticity of the novel that others praise it for. To begin, a lot of the dialogue seems overly contrived and does not sound like realistic speech that the Dakota would be using. Clearly, the novel is written in English and some might point to "translation" and suggest that the dialogue reflects this--but I fail to fully support that. The writing it too contrived, which is likely in part due to the fact that Ella Cara Deloria was heavily influenced by Ruth Benedict (and maybe even Franz Boas himself) while writing the novel. This type of influence makes me doubt the authenticity and authorship of the novel. Was Deloria writing the novel because she wanted to? Or was she being coaxed to write something that Benedict and Boas saw as "needed" to help with American Indian studies at the time. It is no secret that the novel was heavily edited, and much of the plot was cut down because Benedict wanted Deloria to focus on certain aspects of Dakota life. It often leads me to wonder what this novel would have looked like without the influence from Benedict and Boas. Of course, many authors have editors, but few have editors that are so heavy handed and direct the narratives in such a manner as was done here. Are there good aspects of this novel? Of course. There is a great deal of information to learn about place, language, ceremony, and sacred history. Many of the ceremonies caught my eye, and I found the description of each good (just enough to appease the reader, but perhaps without giving away too much information to outsiders) and there are great moments of kinship. Throughout the novel characters lay out what is proper kinship behavior, what is not, etc., and this is great. The aspects of motherhood are also fascinating--especially if you are interested in gender studies. But these elements aside, I still find some fundamental problems with the way this novel was created/edited, and therefore cannot give it more than a 3-star rating.

  • Bat713
    2018-12-04 22:36

    This has found a place on my all time favorite book list. Written in the 1940s, it is the story of Dakota Sioux culture before the white man came. Told from a woman's perspective, it's a warm loving story of a loving culture long since disappeared. The author was educated at Oberlin and became the leading expert on her heritage.

  • Lydia Presley
    2018-12-09 00:16

    Ella Deloria is part of a family of storytellers, thinkers, and activists. Even if the reader knows little of this going into Waterlily, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not just the simple story of a young woman named Waterlily; rather, this is a story framed around the life of that young woman that is intended to teach the uneducated reader the sophisticated, complicated, and beautiful way of living through kinship bonds.Deloria wrote the story of Waterlily with the intention of deliberately avoiding any overt discussion of colonial contact, and for good reason. While it is still apparent in her vocabulary that she has been educated in Euro-American influenced schools (for example - she regularly uses Judeo-Christian terminology to refer to the behavior of the women in the camp) the essence of the story is more in the descriptions of what kinship is and how the every day activities of the camps were centered on the nurturing of those bonds. In Waterlily's story we are presented with values and ideals that, while not unfamiliar to the Euro-American, are still largely unused by today's society. That society is rooted in individualism, in capitalism, and the need for personal gain over the needs of others. Waterlily's story presents the other side quite well. The generosity shown by her family, the respect she shows to her husbands family, her need for her own "blood" still to be able to be carefree when she desires, and so much more are all indicative of a lifestyle and way of thinking that continues to thrive today, in spite of the colonialist attitude of "our way is best." Deloria's work with students at Haskell, and other Native residential schools was vital to the perpetuation of stories like Waterlily. And, as I said earlier, while she did not escape the influence of the Euro-American educational system, I think Waterlily is a standing testament to how the big ideas continue to persevere through the horrific intent of cultural and physical genocide that was going on through the medium of those schools.

  • Rem
    2018-12-03 01:33

    "Grandson, speech is holy; it is not intended to be set free only to be wasted. It is for hearing and remembering." g. 50 "The tribe's concern was that its girls should become women and its boys men through normal and progressive steps without complications. And in the case of the boys, this was as peculiarly delicate matter because of the belief that a boy who was allowed to play girls' games and wear female dress was liable to come under a spell that would make him behave in a feminine manner all his life." pg. 61 "Ghostkeeping was a long, sustained, laborious ceremony. Until the family was ready to give the ghost feast, accompanied by the redistribution of property at the close of the period, the ghost bundle must be guarded relentless care in accordance with a ritual that might not be neglected even once. A slipshod ghostkeeping was worse than none. It brought nothing but dishonor to the dead and discredit on the family. For this reason, unless there was a woman relative who felt herself equal to the duty of custodian, it was better not attempted. And that duty was a grueling one." pg. 141"It was such a mark of tender affection and the only bit of demonstrativeness between husband and wife that any outsider was permitted to see, for such things as kissing or embracing, even in fun, were definitely not done in public....newlyweds did not indulge in any such domestic display. They were properly reserved with reference to both each other and to whoever might see them." pg. 173"Waterlily needed her menfolk, too, her brothers and cousins ready at all times to protect her and give her social backing. Without them, a woman felt insecure against---she did not know what. But she felt as if here she stood vulnerable and alone." pg. 176"But I learned then that there is no more powerful agent for ensuring goodwill and smothering the flame of hatred then the kinship of humans." pg. 194

  • Jyotsna Sreenivasan
    2018-12-02 22:29

    Waterlily was originally written in the 1940’s but not published until 1988, after the author’s death. This novel about the life of a Dakota woman and her family in the mid-1800’s, just as European-Americans were beginning to encroach on the land where the Plains Indians lived, is based on the author’s ancestors. Ella Cara Deloria was born on the Yankton Sioux reservation and worked as a Sioux translator and ethnographic field researcher. She translated and wrote scholarly works about traditional Sioux life and customs, but in order to make this lifestyle come alive for readers, she decided to write a novel. The delightful, insightful result is Waterlily. The title refers to one of the main characters, but in reality the novel is about Waterlily’s entire family, since for a Dakota woman or man, kinship ties are akin to life itself.Please see complete review at:

  • Michael
    2018-12-03 06:34

    This book has been sitting on my shelf for 25 years and I've finally gotten around the reading it. I'm glad I finally did. Ms Deloria comes from a prominent and politically active Lakota family. She studies and worked for years with the famous anthropologist Frank Boas at Columbia University. She was encouraged to take the research she was meticulously setting down and turn it into an everyday language in novel form to let the majority of Americans what life was like for the Plains tribes a life totally unknown and alien to most Americans. And the novel does just that, following a young Lakota woman from childhood through to marriage and child bearing, illuminating the nomadic life before the whites invaded. The book was written in the 1940's but not published until 1988. I really enjoyed this book. If you have an interested in the Native American culture and what life would have been like for them over 200 years ago, then this will be a rewarding read.

  • Paige
    2018-11-16 02:28

    Following the everyday life of Dakota Sioux tribe member, Waterlily (also the name of the protagonist), is a complex piece of historical fiction that chronicles culture, history and life in the Teton Lakota tribe. This book presents a different view of history and traditions, and students may be interested to learn about a new culture. Also, it presents new information that “you won’t learn in the classroom”, and will give students new depth of knowledge. As a teacher, helping students broaden their cultural knowledge and different histories is important. Students who identify with or a part of cultural, historical generational tribes may be inspired to read this novel and inspired to write or share about aspects of their own heritage and culture. Other students may want to learn more about a Native American tribe, and broaden their horizons.

  • Jean Gunderson
    2018-11-29 23:19

    How is it that I was an English minor and I've made it nearly to age 40 without ever having read an account of the life of any native individual? This work of historical fiction was reportedly painstakingly researched by the author to assure historical accuracy. It was interesting to read about how this woman lived her life in a native culture before the influence of the white man. If you don't know anything about Oceti Sakowin culture, I recommend researching a little about the kinship relationships/rules that the people followed (many of which are still followed today by many people). Kinship comes up a lot in this book. I'm glad that I was required to read this book (and write about a kinship relationship in each chapter) as an assignment for my Native American Studies for Educators class for my South Dakota teaching certification this summer.