The Lodge at Deadwood News

Festival of Books: Deadwood event invites Lakota author

Posted: Mon, September 26, 2011

Jay Kirschenmann | Argus Leader

Deadwood's population should nearly double during the Festival of Books weekend Oct. 7-9.

About 10,000 readers will gather with more than 50 authors in the historic Black Hills town for the state festival that alternates locations each year with Sioux Falls.

National, regional and South Dakota authors will hold book signings, presentations, panel discussions and readings during the ninth annual event. It's mostly free, except for a handful of events that include food or are special workshops.

Melynda Philpott, 33, of Newell will be among fans checking out the many sessions.

She especially looks forward to hearing a talk Oct. 8 by author Merlyn Janet Manger, a survivor of the 1972 Rapid City flood. Manger's book "Come Into the Water: A Survivor's Story" recently was published by South Dakota State Historical Society Press.

"There is just so much to see - I've been checking out the webpage listings and author pages for months," Philpott said. She plans to attend a poetry-writing workshop Oct. 7, too.

One highlight of the festival will be a presentation by Lakota author Joseph Marshall III of Sante Fe, N.M. He's the author of "The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History," this year's One Book South Dakota, which is featured at discussions in communities across the state before the festival.

"One of our programs is called Authors on the Road. We provide grants for small communities to bring in festival authors, something Joseph Marshall is doing for us," Binkley said.

Binkley says festival participants often carry their brochures with events circled throughout the weekend, which this year will include Marshall's talks and presentations by other authors such as New York Times best-selling western author Craig Johnson of Wyoming.

Johnson will show photos and talk about a new A&E TV series in the making, based on his books, called "Walt Longmire."

"During the festival, he'll show us pictures from the production shoots and talk about how he transformed his books into the TV show," Binkley said.

Author Pete Dexter again will attend the festival, the only South Dakotan to win the National Book Award, said Steve Binkley, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book in Brookings, a program of the South Dakota Humanities Council.

"Pete Dexter lives in Washington state, but he tries to make it to the festival every year," Binkley said.
Crazy Horse author

One Book author Marshall, 66, was raised on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, where he heard the oral history of Crazy Horse and many other Lakota stories from his grandfather and others in the community. Those stories were essential to writing the book, he said.

Reviewers of the book have agreed, saying Marshall's book is much warmer and filled with details missing from many other authors' books about Crazy Horse.

Marshall's first language was Lakota. He said he enjoys traveling and talking about his work, and he looks forward to coming to Deadwood.

"My mother's parents were the ones who raised me from infancy, so I was very close to them," Marshall said during a recent phone interview. "I also had contact with their contemporaries, their relatives who were about the same age they were."

As a youngster in the 1940s and '50s, Marshall said he listened closely to the stories told by friends and family born before 1900, whose parents had been born in the 1860s or so. Drawing on that rich Native American oral tradition, he wrote the book published in 2004.

He tells about Crazy Horse as a person who was a hunter, a doting father, a warrior and a reluctant leader.

"I wanted to present him as a human being, with faults as well as virtues, like any of us," Marshall said. "He was a real person, not a fictional character. He experienced a lot of the same things we do in life: marriage, having a child and facing life's issues day in and day out."

Crazy Horse lived during the encroachment of white settlers, something Native Americans in his time did not see as a doomed struggle.

"He distinguished himself in combat, setting himself apart, so people naturally gravitated toward him," Marshall said. "But he had no desire to talk about his accomplishments. Instead, he was a very quiet, humble person who reluctantly accepted a leadership role."

Crazy Horse probably would not like the huge monument being carved in his honor in the Black Hills, Marshall said. But the project opens discussions of his life as well as Native American history in general, which Marshall says most agree is a good thing.

Marshall has written 15 books and has appeared in several episodes of TV's "The Real West." He was in the miniseries "Return to Lonesome Dove," and his most recent role was playing the character Loved by the Buffalo in the Turner Network Television miniseries "Into the West." He also narrated that series and served as technical adviser.