This book presents two of the most important traditions of the Dakota people, the Red Road and the Holy Dance, as told by Samuel Mniyo and Robert Goodvoice, two Dakota men from the Wahpeton Dakota Nation near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. Their accounts of these central spiritual traditions and other aspects of Dakota life and history go back seven generations and help to illuminate the worldview of the Dakota people for the younger generation of Dakotas, also called the Santee Sioux.
“The Good Red Road,” an important symbolic concept in the Holy Dance, means the good way of living or the path of goodness. The Holy Dance (also called the Medicine Dance) is a Dakota ceremony of earlier generations. Although it is no longer practiced, it too was a central part of the tradition and likely the most important ceremonial organization of the Dakotas. While some people believe that the Holy Dance is sacred and that the information regarding its subjects should be allowed to die with the last believers, Mniyo believed that these spiritual ceremonies played a key role in maintaining connections with the spirit world and were important aspects of shaping the identity of the Dakota people.
In The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux, Daniel Beveridge brings together Mniyo and Goodvoice’s narratives and biographies, as well as songs of the Holy Dance and the pictographic notebooks of James Black (Jim Sapa), to make this volume indispensable for scholars and members of the Dakota community.
“This is an important contribution that will appeal to scholarly and general audiences alike, both Native and non-Native. Documenting the oral traditions of four members of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation, The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux offers unique perspectives on Dakota philosophy and spirituality and contributes to the continuity of Dakota culture, tradition, and identity through time.”—David C. Posthumus, assistant professor of anthropology and Native American studies at the University of South Dakota
David C. Posthumus
“A source book for Dakota culture and spirituality, these carefully curated narratives succeed in fulfilling the wishes of Mniyo, Goodvoice, and others that future generations will benefit from Indigenous knowledge of the complex, changing relationship between ceremony, belief, and life.”—David G. McCrady, author of Living with Strangers: The Nineteenth-Century Sioux and the Canadian-American Borderlands
David G. McCrady
“In The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux Samuel I. Mniyo (Sam Buffalo) and Robert Goodvoice record their people’s history and traditional principles for right living, pictured as the Red Road traversed from east to west. Both Elders hoped their detailed descriptions of the Holy Dance, the heart and embodiment of their nation, would enable their younger people to persevere in the ceremony and way of life. Daniel Beveridge’s collation and notes to the narratives bring this true Dakota knowledge to a wide readership.”—Alice B. Kehoe, anthropologist and author of The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization
Alice B. Kehoe