“Seeing the Missouri River country of the Sioux is like seeing where the earth first recognized humanity….” Yet the white man’s humanity is forcing wrenching change upon the land: the time is the late sixties, and the Missouri River Power Project, just completed, is unleashing water on the lands that have nourished the Dakota, physically and spiritually, for countless generations. It is a new world, and this is called progress.
Like the dead trees [that] protrude from the white people’s reservoir covering tribal land, John Tatekeya and other Dakota … discover that, in 1967, their Indian roots are dying from modern society’s encroachment. John wins a court case against a white man who rustled his cattle but is left uncompensated by the court and betrayed by Indians corrupted by the white world. Basing her story on an actual trial, [Elizabeth] Cook-Lynn has written an introspective appeal for Indians to retain their culture.
— Library Journal
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, who calls the Crow Creek reservation home, loves and understands her people and their heritage. She beautifully fuses their story with the Northern Plains setting, and in the process places in stark relief how the destruction of the Missouri River basin has affected the people who live there.
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe, was born in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and raised on the reservation. She is Professor Emerita of English and Native American Studies at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.
She was one of the founding editors of Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies (Red Pencil Review). She is also a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals and the Authors Guild. Since her retirement, Elizabeth has served as a writer-in-residence at universities around the country.
For her own writing, she believes that “Writing is an essential act of survival for contemporary American Indians.” Her writing and teaching centers on the “cultural, historical, and political survival of Indian Nations.” She also says, “The final responsibility of a writer like me … is to commit something to paper in the modern world which supports this inexhaustible legacy left by our ancestors.”