Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Farmer's Daughter

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The Farmer's Daughter

Novellas

by Jim Harrison

The Farmer's Daughter
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Dec 2009, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2010, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

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Beyond the Book

The Wicasa Wakan in Lakota Native Culture
In "Brown Dog Redux," the second novella in Jim Harrison's The Farmer's Daughter, an enigmatic quality surrounds the character of Charles Eats Horses. At Wounded Knee he sits alone in the moonlit cemetery, arms raised to the sky; the next morning he is found unmoving in a trance-like state; and throughout the story his peers carefully avoid eye contact with him. Though little else is given to explain these behaviors, Charles Eats Horses tells Brown Dog that "[The others] think I might be a wicasa wakan..."

As Harrison describes, a wicasa wakan is a "medicine man, often a somewhat frightening person like a brujo in Mexico," and is capable of great powers. In The Anthropological Papers of The American Museum of Natural History (1921, translated by Burt Means), Sword, an Oglala Lakota native, explains that the role of a wicasa wakan extends beyond that of a healer and is difficult to define completely. He states that, "Wakan means very ...

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