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Native Sun News: Dana Lonehill depicts rez life with debut book





The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.


Reality of reservation life subject of Lonehill’s book
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY — Finding books about Native people is fairly easy. They are a dime a dozen. Finding a book written about Native people written by someone from an actual Indian reservation is a rarity. A book titled Pointing with Lips by Dana Lonehill hopes to fill that void.

The debut release from Lonehill is a fictional story set on the very same Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where she was born and raised. The book portrays the life of a single Oglala mother struggling to raise her children amidst the chaos, struggle, and beauty that accompanies being a resident of the reservation.

“The inspiration (for the book) definitely came from two best friends of mine. We would sit around and watch seasons of Sex & The City and talk about having a rezzed out version of the show,” said Lonehill.

The author who has written for several publications across the world including Native Sun News, The Guardian, Last Real Indians, LA Progressive, and her blog justarezchick has had the privilege of interacting with many people from multiple cultures. Thus creating an image of reservation life that was both authentic and understandable by the larger population was important factor in the formulation of the plot.

“I was asked in the revision process if I wanted the book to be more for people on the reservation or people off the reservation? During editing, I tried to make it easier for people not from the reservation to understand. When I read Adrian Louis' book Skins I got it. Because it was about people from the (Pine Ridge) reservation, so I went back my original intention. I wrote the book so it was real with no sugar coating. Not some watered down version of the Rez and not full of clichés, visions, and innuendos. I wanted it to just feel like home,” she said.

The book has already begun to receive praise from those who had received advanced copies in addition to its publishers.

“As her publisher, we are so thrilled for Dana and her first book depicting the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota and the realities of living there,” Trace DeMeyer, founder of Blue Hand Books, said. “This book is a triumph for Dana and for her reservation relatives. It’s so real you forget its fiction, and that’s really good fiction.”

The first time novelist, Lonehill, admits to having some difficulties during the creative process.

“I had help getting the book out there thanks to the wonderful people at Blue Hand Books. My biggest struggle was the four years it took to shape it. When you are done writing a book, in no way are you done. And also I wrote the book in long hand, so getting that typed into a computer was a pain.”

Lonehill has several other projects in the works as well and hopes that her initial release will create momentum to fuel her future plans.

“I already started on my next book called Chokecherry Eyes, an NDN love story. Plus I have collections of short stories that need to go from long hand to the computer. These short stories are called Tales from The Cook Shack and The Wateca Chronicles,” said Lonehill.

The book is available for purchase on Kindle and is being distributed in paperback.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)