He is unique among Indian writers, whether storytellers or oral historians. He was raised traditionally, as a Woodland Sioux, by his grandmother, from 1858 to 1874, until he was 15. He thus gained a thorough first-hand knowledge of the lifeways, language, culture, and oral history. His father (thought to have been hanged at Mankato, Minnesota) reappeared and insisted he receive the white man's education. Educated at Dartmouth and Boston University Medical School, Eastman became a highly literate physician, who was the only doctor available to the victims of the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, a major historical event, often described as "ending the Indian wars." Other Indian writers of this period were either entirely acculturated (had never lived the traditional life of their people or been educated out of their native knowledge) or were not literate, and were able to provide only "as told to" materials, through the filters of interpreters and non-Indian writers. Eastman had the lifeways and historical events experiences, and he did not need the literary filters of translators and white anthropologists or collectors.
Wigwam Evenings was written in collaberation with his wife, Elaine Goddale Eastman. It is a condensed collection of the values of the Sioux Indians, presented in a style that is at once both direct and engaging. These allegories are the essence of the Sioux culture told in prose a child of any time or place can understand. A rich collection of wisdom.
©1993 Jimcin Recordings; Cover Design ©1994 Brian J. Killavey
"Covell is a graceful, deep-voiced storyteller and his inflections give full color." (Kliatt)
This is the Sioux's version of Aesop's Fables. Good lessons for young listeners but may be a little boring for the more mature.
Mr. Eastman was about 16 years old when he was taken from his life with his Grandmother. He was forced to attend white Christen school, and eventually became a medical doctor. A recent movie ('Bury My Heart At Wounded Knew') was the story of his early life.
The part not shown in the movie was he and his wife left the US and lived in England for most of the rest of their lives. They wrote this collection of stories when he realized there were no other collections being published. He appears to be the only native to have remembered the stories from a time before the whites, and was able to write them down in English and get them published. The real value in these stories is they are the closest thing to the original left to us today, anything else is tainted by white influence.
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