Dec 23, 2013 - A Little White Bird & Little White Lies by Dana Lone Hill
he following is a book review I did on a book sent to me in the mail. I often get books to review from places and always have to make time to read them. However the following book was so offensive to me as a Lakota woman, I had a hard time getting through it and considered it a waste of time to read it but I did it and reviewed it to let others be aware of what people are saying about us. The author preyed on the poverty of my reservation and tried to turn it into a cash flow for herself. So much so she wants to continue to write books about the Lakota life she learned about in the six months she lived there. She marketed this book to every Native radio station and during Native American month. She gives speeches on the Indian way of life. I was born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation and would never myself have the audacity to be an “expert” about my own culture. Since the age of 18, I have lived in various cities and back and forth on the reservation. However, I would never write a book about how it is to be white or live among white people. Because, I am not white.
Little White Bird is banking on the hope that people will feel sorry for her and buy her book about her experience of living on the Pine Ridge Reservation for six months and how it traumatized her so badly she had no memory of the whole experience for seven years. She wants people to believe she is donating part of the profit to a women’s shelter for the reservation because while in a relationship with a tribal member there she was in an abusive relationship. She claims the reservation needs help for women in domestic violence situations, and that part is true. There is no shelter or safe house on the reservation. Women are transported off the reservation to shelters. However, the book about this violent relationship, which, I don’t doubt because I am a survivor of domestic violence myself, it is just that she still sells this man’s artwork at her book signings, professes her loves to him on Facebook, and calls him the Lakota word for spouse, even though he is in real life married to a Lakota woman. I know the bonds of emotional abuse may still exist but it is hard to see him still banking off a woman who writes about what a horrible person he is. Especially when you wonder if any profit is really going for a domestic violence shelter on the reservation.
See this is the problem with people who come to our reservation seeking the romanticism of movies such as Dances With Wolves or books that usually display a Native man in a breech cloth on the cover with a white woman bent over looking in his eyes. This is not reality, there are no fairy tales on our reservation except in the form of basketball and state tournaments when one of our teams go in as the Cinderella team and take it to the white schools.
The book starts out by telling you the author left home because her parents did not want her around her younger sisters. So she lived in a chicken coop at the age of 18. she slept with a gun to protect herself from wild bears and wolves yet could not build a fire because of the fact that the chicken coop was inside city limits. She talks of her trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and how many of the motels in South Dakota didn’t have running water and would advertise “We have running water.” Anyone who lives in South Dakota can tell you this is not true, also I am pretty sure they HAVE to have running water to operate a motel. I am sure there are some kind of health code violations that make it mandatory, I mean after all this is not the 1800′s, it’s South Dakota.
She describes the housing on the reservation “These structures were not traditional tipis of the ancestors, but creations of garbage and scraps. these were not houses but piles of rusted corrugated sheet metal, tattered tarps, and cardboard stacked together to create shelters.”
She also describes how people who live in these creations of garbage will stick plastic food wrappers in the holes of their house to keep warm. Now, I know of all the money HUD receives not all of it makes it to our tribal housing department. I know there is a shortage of housing on the reservation, and many people live in one house which wears it down more. I know people who use clear plastic to winterize their homes and keep the cold out, but I don’t know anyone who lives in a pile of trash. And I find it disturbing how someone who lived in a chicken coop is so judgmental.
I could go on and on about the book and it’s stories of sexcapades with an older Lakota man she calls a Chief, or lack thereof because of his impotency. I could tell you how offensive it is to Lakota people, and the picture she paints of how we are because she had a bad experience financially with one man and his family. I could tell you how she claims to be an honorary member of our tribe, when we don’t really have honorary members. In six months, she became the expert on Lakota culture, so much so she is planning and has opened fundraising websites to write Lakota children’s books.
I could tell you how she says women have their roles on the reservation and are not allowed to do certain things, but you can, if desired, listen to that in her podcast interview, which I link below.
But I won’t go into detail about this book. Who knows, it could all be true. It could be she did find a family living in a pile of trash. Maybe there are motels in this state with no running water, maybe she is an honorary member of our tribe, who knows.
Except, what I do know is there is no publisher that “took a chance on her book” as she mentioned in a podcast interview. Passer Press is the publisher of her book. Shelly Ott founded Passer Press in 2013 and claims to make $75,000 in annual income in this link.
Passer Press tweets with Little White Bird on Twitter, congratulating her on her book sales and talks of how proud they are to publish her book and excited for her second book.
Shelly Ott, managing editor of Passer Press, announces the release of the book by Little White Bird here http://www.courant.com/community/cheshire/hcrs-83027-middletownshoreline-20131206,0,2615675.story
And here http://podroom.a2zen.fm/podcasts/ravenhawk-talk-radio/ravenhawk-radio-presents-the-dark-horse-speaks-aut#.Uqst9NJDuSp on the podcast of Raven Hawk Radio in an interview with Little White Bird, she proudly admits she is also the artist of her book cover. The artist of her book cover listed on the inside of her book, is Shelly Ott. Little White Bird is Shelly Ott.
So if she lies about her publisher, which is herself, how are we to believe her “book of truth?”
This “part Cherokee” woman went to the reservation with her Dances with Wolves Dream, became an expert on our culture, and is now exploiting her six months of a bad relationship as to who we are, when she doesn’t even know if she is: white or Cherokee, publisher or author, Shelly Ott or Little White Bird.
I did find some truth I can quote her on in the book.
“I wanted to listen. I wanted to hear it all, soak it in, understand and become Lakota. But bottom line, I am white; my heart cannot change the color of my skin.”
Ms. Ott, a/k/a Little White Bird, I found your book to be a misrepresentation of who we are, because you fell in love with an abusive man. I am sorry you went through that abuse, but we are more than what you depicted us as. Maybe your experience was your reality but it is not ours. Lakota women are stronger than you know and not put in their place on the their own reservation. In fact, if you anger one enough, they may put you in your place. Which is in a chicken coop in Connecticut somewhere? Right?
Lakota men, be careful of those Stands With a Fist auditions, you never know…
“her [White Bird Woman] bio on amazon says her heart will always be buried at wounded knee. Don’t people realize how ridiculous/offensive that sounds? I am not native but I cannot stand how this new age movement has patronized natives and painted them to be these lifeless historical relics existing behind some velvet rope in a museum. This white bird woman is a disgrace, as is anyone who tries to profit from tragedy and lies” – Mike Capobianco