A rare, documented account of the life of a Crow medicine woman, drawn from interviews conducted by legendary writer and ethnographer Frank Bird Linderman and told in her own words.
In the spring of 1931, Pretty-shield, a grandmother and medicine healer in the Crow tribe, met Frank Linderman for a series of interviews. When Linderman asked Pretty-shield about her life, the old woman relaxed and laughed. “We shall be here until we die.”
In this rich account, Linderman, using sign language and an interpreter, pieces together the story of Pretty-shield’s extraordinary life, from her youth migrating across the High Plains with her people to their forced settlement on the reservation, to how she became a medicine woman. Pretty-shield vividly recalls the centuries-long traditions of the Crow people, bringing into focus the many complex facets of Crow womanhood and the ways in which Indigenous communities care for each other.
Pretty-shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows reveals the everyday concerns and deep-rooted customs of tribal life for a new generation coming to terms with the violence and racism of America’s past, and offers a fascinating and authentic portrait of the Crow, their customs and traditions, their relationship to nature and healing, and the timeless insights of their lived experiences. As Pretty-shield reminds us, “Listen to the old ones. . . keep their wisdom within your heart, and understand that wisdom in your mind.”
An essential contribution to the American experience, Pretty-shield illuminates a segment of our society which has for too long been relegated to the shadows of history, and celebrates Crow life and its contributions to our rich culture.
Frank Bird Linderman was an author, ethnographer, and advocate who lived closely with the Flatheads, Blackfeet, Crows, and other Indigenous peoples of the northern Plains for many years. His books include Plenty-coups: Chief of the Crows, The Montana Stories of Frank B. Linderman, and Pretty-Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows, which was initially published in 1932. Linderman passed away in 1938.