Crazy Horse. Legendary American Indian leader. Heroic visionary.
The name Crazy Horse brings to mind these terms as well as associations to the Battle of Little Bighorn and Custer’s last stand. A perennially fascinating figure of the American West, Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse is the subject of the One Book South Dakota selection for 2011, The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph Marshall III.
Although Crazy Horse is best known for his battlefield expertise, Marshall’s history of the Lakota leader offers a closer look at his life, revealing more to the man than war stories and legends may suggest. Marshall, a native Lakota speaker born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, uses the oral storytelling techniques of his ancestors to craft a unique style of prose that provides greater insight and understanding of Lakota culture and of Crazy Horse himself, allowing readers to know the great leader as his fellow Lakota Indians knew him.
Since 2003, One Book South Dakota, administered by the South Dakota Humanities Council, has encouraged everyone across the state to read and discuss the same novel or memoir throughout the course of a year. Through these discussions, SDHC aims to provide greater understanding and civility over cultural issues relevant to South Dakotans. This year, SDHC has chosen the topic of American Indian Cultures as the central theme for their events, programs, and grant-making activities.
Discussion groups will take place across the state to discuss The Journey of Crazy Horse as well as issues brought up by the council’s theme. SDHC provides reader’s guides and discussion copies to groups that apply to the council, and will provide scholars to help facilitate discussions if requested. In addition to regional discussion groups, Joseph Marshall III will present the capstone lecture at the South Dakota Festival of Books on October 8, 2011 in Deadwood, SD, an event that is free and open to the public.
Over 2,400 American Indian tribal high-school students attending South Dakota tribal schools will also be given a special edition copy of 2011’s One Book South Dakota selection, The Journey of Crazy Horse, as well as a free study guide for the book. Developed in partnership with South Dakota GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduates Program), the program aims to “increase the number of American Indian students that achieve success in higher education through a rigorous, pre-college enrichment program.” The resources to support this program were made available through the generous donations of the South Dakota Community Foundation and the Fishback Financial Corporation.
At the start of the 2011-12 school year, all students enrolled in tribal high schools throughout South Dakota will have materials hand delivered to them by either a South Dakota Humanities Council staffer, scholar, or a member of the American Indian Cultures Task Force. Tribal high schools will also be eligible to apply for a grant from the SDHC for a scholar-led book discussion to be held on the school’s campus as part of the SDHC’s biennial initiative on American Indian Cultures.
For more information on One Book South Dakota, visit http://www.sdhumanities.org/programs_book.htm 
For a complete listing of all programs and events for the 2011 South Dakota Festival of the Book visit: http://www.sdbookfestival.com/