Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman’s Story

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In the book Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman's Story, written by Mark St. Pierre, the true strength of a woman's soul is reveled. In her stories I was able to capture the essence of her life. She had overcome many trials and tribulations. Of which these included her loss of many family members, and loved ones, fight with tuberculosis, and overcoming the doubts of people around her. Throughout her life she had learned to accept what was happening to her, and yet she still hung on. As stated in one of the stories "So you see, when things are hard for us, we are being tested. We have to overcome the difficulty and go on, no matter how hard it seems right then." (pg 32)         While reading Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman's Story, I was completely amazed of how she was able to carry on her life. At the turn of almost every page was another thing bad happening to her, but she kept going.

Madonna Swan was the type of woman almost everyone strives to be. She was honest, caring, loving and willing to learn from every situation.

        Starting from when Madonna Swan was a little girl, her family played a huge role in her life. One family member in particular was her Grandmother Julia. Grandma Julia had passed on many different tales of the life before she was born. She told her about her mother growing up, and the different situations they had experienced together. Her Grandmother had a very influential being around her. If she felt any doubts about anything she would pray to the grandfathers. This is just one of the many traits she had passed on to Madonna Swan.

        When a young woman reaches her special time, they are celebrated. This ceremony is very special among Indians. When Madonna Swan was going through this, she spent the whole time with her grandmother and mother in the tipi. Her grandmother had told her "Within these days you are not to have a bad disposition or think bad thoughts about anyone or anything. Try to be happy and not get angry or else that will also be your way in life." I think by what her grandmother told her that day is the way Madonna Swan looked and lived the rest of her life. (pg41) She was taught during this time the skills of sewing, cooking and cleaning. The skills she had learned over those days would carry on and help her later on in life. One thing I picked up was the her grandmother had taught her to remain busy and always look for the best situation. While Madonna Swan was suffering from tuberculosis, and was in the snaitorium, she was constantly helping. When she was feeling okay her self she would help out the other girls. This is where Madonna Swan shows how unselfish she was. If she really wanted to she could have sat around and felt sorry for herself. She could have let the disease conquer her, but she did the opposite. The idea Madonna Swan followed was another from her grandmother; "She also taught me the Four Great Virtues which govern the Lakota people. They are generosity, bravery, fortitude (long suffering or patience), and moral integrity." (pg 42) When Grandma Julia died it left a great amount of impact on her. After all this was one of the women who taught her some of the most important things she need to know about life. One lesson her grandmother taught he before she passed away was; "You don't have to go out and look for a man or a boyfriend. Keep to yourselves, be quiet and be a lady. The good men will find you." I think this is another reason why Madonna Swan stayed so innocent throughout her life.

Madonna Swan dealt with a lot of pain from losing loved ones. When her dad did not inform her of her grandmother's death until " 43 days after," she was left with emptiness inside. She was able to move on with her life until another incident happened. When her brother arrived home from the war, Madonna Swan was so excited. She loved the idea of seeing him again. I think it was so unfortunate that he had passed away no long after he arrived home. Madonna was devastated at the thought of losing him, but she carried on. Madonna remained strong throughout the whole thing. She knew they were going to lose Kermit, but she did all she could to keep the home okay for him. "This was the first time I had put all the knowledge I had gotten from Grandma to use. I started to cook and bake bread and help mom all the time." (pgs 47,57) Madonna Swan learned a lot from her fight against TB. She was given the opportunity to learn to trust the white people and learned that they are not all bad. Just the ones who want to be. I was completely amazed of how she was able to survive all she did, and still be alive to tell about it. Although she was not able to lead a normal life, she was still able to learn. I find it amazing how she was able to learn, from everyone and everything. Madonna Swan seems to me to be the type who cares what people think, but she is willing to do things her way. Her fight with TB was a huge fight in her life. I think it is unfortunate she had to experience that, but I believe it had made her a stronger person. It helped her deal with situations later on in life, no matter what they were.

In reading this book my eyes were opened to the strength of a woman's soul. I am glad to know there are women out there who are willing to not give up on themselves or any one else in their life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved how the book was written. Her stories were meant to inform, not for people to pity her. I believe this because Madonna Swan did not pity herself, so why would she want others to pity her.