Posts Tagged ‘Omaha’

The Little Buffalo Robe

February 2, 2012

The last few days have been spent cleaning up the scanned PDF of The Little Buffalo Robe, a task that proved to be much more time consuming and tedious than expected.  I am reprinting this book and Yellow Star because they were illustrated by Lone Star Dietz and his wife, Angel DeCora, while they were on the faculty of Carlisle Indian School.  Because these books have been out of print for the better part of a century, it is likely that few people have ever heard of them and, thus, have not seen the artwork contained in them. Yellow Star contains four full-page black and white reproductions of what were likely color paintings done jointly by the couple and signed by both of them.  In 1911, when this book was first printed, Dietz preferred to be called William Lone Star and signed the artwork in this book with that moniker. The Little Buffalo Robe includes four full-page black and white illustrations as does Yellow Star, but only the frontispiece was done jointly; the other three were Angel DeCora’s work alone. In addition, the book contains numerous, and I mean a lot, of smaller pen-and-ink drawings of things related to the story line.  Most of them were done by Dietz, a few by Angel, and others were not signed.  One of the joys of reading this book is admiring the frequent illustrations.

I found The Little Buffalo Robe to be very interesting because it says much about the culture of Plains Indians at the time.  The protagonist, a young Omaha girl, tells the tale of her odyssey after becoming separated from her tribe and parents.  Her adventures as she encounters Assiniboine, Dakota, Pawnee and Winnebago adults are told from a Omaha child’s perspective and reveal much about the customs, culture and beliefs of her people. The author, Ruth Everett Beck, was a white woman who grew up Lyons, Nebraska along the Missouri River in the time and place where this book was set.  She likely learned the Omaha customs as a girl as she was reputed to be an authority on some aspects of Indian life.