Ella Cara Deloria
produced a definitive dictionary and
grammar, provided thorough descriptions of traditional
social organization and religious life, edited and
translated tests dictated by various storytellers, and
composed commentaries and annotations to these texts. At
the same time, she honored her family obligations as a
Dakota woman and left a lasting legacy for scholars and
for the culture that had sustained her." (Medicine
Selected Works By Ella
1929 The Sun Dance of the Oglala Sioux. Journal of American Folklore 42 (166):354-413.
1932 Dakota Texts. New York: G.E. Stechert and Co.
1941 [with Franz Boas] Dakota Grammar. Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 23, Second Memoir. Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office.
1944 Speaking of Indians. New York: Friendship Press.
1954 Short Dakota Texts, Including Conversations. International Journal of American Linguistics 20 (1):17-22.
1967 Some Notes on the Yankton. Museum News 28:3-4,5-6.
1979 Reminiscences of Ella
Deloria, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.
NY: New York Times oral history program, American
Indian oral history research project.
Dance Garters or
Links of Interest
NB Many of Ellas
earlier notes and manuscripts are housed in the American
Philosophical Society in
Philadelphia. Her (later) unpublished manuscripts
are housed in the Institute
of Indian Studies at the
University of South Dakota.
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Ella Cara Deloria, a Yankton Dakota whose native name was Anpetu Waste Win (Beautiful Day Woman) was born on the Yankton Dakota Reservation at Lake Andes in South Dakota. Known primarily for her linguistic and ethnographic work with the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (Sioux nations), Ella was most "remembered by reservation residents for her contributions as an educator" (Medicine, 45).
Ella chose teaching as a career. Later, however, she would combine fieldwork and teaching, interspersing lectures and writing. Ella spent her formative years with Hunkpapa and Sihasapa Lakota (Sioux) on Standing Rock Reservation. Her father converted to Christianity and became the first Native American Episcopal minister.
Map showing the
Great Sioux Reservation
Ella received a scholarship to Oberlin College, Ohio, though she later transferred to Teachers College at Columbia University, from which she received her B.S. in 1915. She conducted much of her work at Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud reservations and was primarily involved with church and educational activities.
Invited by Franz Boas to teach Siouan dialects at Columbia, Ella later co-authored with Boas Dakota Grammar (1941). She worked with Ruth Fulton Benedict and is the author of Speaking of Indians (1944) and Dakota Texts (1932), a compilation of folktales recorded directly from Native American storytellers. She has translated both written and recorded material from collections of the Bureau of Indian Affairs physician who resided at Pine Ridge between 1890 and 1920.
Bea Medicine has noted that "In many ways, Ella Deloria stood within and outside her own culture" (47). Today we celebrate a linguist and ethnographer, known as Aunt Ella to younger anthropologists (Medicine 45) - Ella Cara Deloria.
Selected Works About Ella
Medicine, Bea 1980. Ella C.
Deloria, The Emic Voice. Melus (Multi-Ethnic
Literature in the Unties States) 7(4):23-30.
1988 Introducing Ella C. Deloria. Chamberlain, S.D.: Dakota Indian Foundation.
1993 Growing Up Native
American. New York: Avon Books.
Baby Carrier, (Rice
Medicine, Bea 1988 Ella Cara Deloria. In Women Anthropologists: A Biographical Dictionary. Ute Gacs, Aisha Khan, Jerrie McIntyre, and Ruth Weinberg, eds. Pp. 45-50. New York: Greenwood Press.
Rice, Julian 1993 Ella Deloria's Iron Hawk. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Rice, Julian 1994 Ella Deloria's The Buffalo People. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.