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Waterlily by Ella Cara Deloria

            The value of Ella Deloria's, "Waterlily," derives not only from its thoughtful and lucid analysis of kinship relationships among the Dakota Sioux, but also from the fundamental ethical lessons it imparts. We should read this book as a primer in the ethical life, taking its place alongside classic works of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and others. Waterlily remains an enduring masterpiece of the real Dakota life "especially the elaborately textured layers of the all-important and all- encompassing kinship relationships. Waterlily presents an extraordinarily practical idea that, if implemented, could help end perpetual cycles of violence: the concept of "kinship appeal. " The violating outsider is required to become a member of the harmed clan "to "replace " the member of the tribe that he killed: "Though he has harmed us, we shall make him something to us (a relative) in place of the one who is not here. Was the dead your brother? Then this man shall be your brother. Or your uncle? Or your cousin? As for me, the dead man was my nephew. Therefore his slayer shall be my nephew. And from now on he shall be one of us. We shall regard him as though he were our dead kinsman returned to us. ".
             Ella Cara Deloria led a remarkable life. We can share part of that life by conducting a careful and purposeful analysis of her classic work, Waterlily. One of the most exciting and profoundly important aspects of this text is Deloria's ability to lucidly present a comprehensive picture of the traditional life and times of Dakota Sioux prior to the disruption and dissolution of their society that resulted from contact with European cultures. Because of her training at Columbia University by distinguished anthropologist Franz Boas, Deloria is able to provide us with a detached, objective, scientific analysis of the culture of the Dakota Sioux "one that provides penetrating analyses of the anthropological foundations of the Dakota society.

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