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DEI Learning Group: Spirit Car

Author Diane Wilson

"One Minneapolis One Read - Diane Wilson, Author"

Diane Wilson speaks with students at South High School (Minneapolis, MN) about her book, Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, her views, and her experience.

Save the date!

Spirit Car Book Talk & Discussion with Diane Wilson
Thursday Nov 14, 2019 from 11:30 AM  - 1:00 PM
Harmon Room (133), DeWitt Wallace Library

Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibition

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists was open at the Mia from June 2 to August 18, 2019. This was the first major exhibition of artwork by over 115 Native women from the United States and Canada spanning over 1,000 years, presented by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

A book (below) was published in conjunction with the exhibition.

Possible Discussion Questions

1. Compare what you knew about the 1862 Dakota War to the way this story unfolds. What, if anything, has changed in your understanding of this event?

2. How might the author’s life have been different if she had had a strong sense of her Dakota heritage as a child?

3. Whose story is the author telling? For whom is she writing the story?

4. What impact is achieved by the Dakota Indian history being told through personal family stories? How is the effect different from reading about the same events in a history book?

5. Would Lucille’s life likely have been better or more difficult without her boarding school experiences? What do you think the boarding schools represented to the Dakota Indian families?

6. Talk about what the author means when she talks about riding in her spirit car. Have you ever had a similar experience in connecting with the past?

7. Give examples of when the author uses humor in the book. What role does humor play?

8. What is the biggest loss the author is writing about? Discuss the various losses documented in the book.

9. The last sentence of the book is the author’s response to her mother, Lucille: “Yes, I think things are changing for the better.” What do the author and Lucille mean by this statement?

10. The book jacket describes the book as a counterpoint of memoir and carefully researched fiction. What is your understanding of the term “carefully researched fiction”, and do you think this technique adds or detracts from the cohesiveness of the book? Do the stories we tell about our own lives incorporate some degree of fiction?

Source and full credit for these questions:

Interactive Online Map

Enjoy the Bdote Memory Map by which the Dakota people trace their history and ancestral stories of the region that is now referred to as the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. It's important to note that only a few traditional Dakota places are shown in the interactive map. To learn about other sites and the Dakota's relationship to Minnesota, explore the rest of the website, their Wordpress blog, and Facebook page to find more videos, audio, articles. maps, etc. The website is intended to be a beginning point to learn from the Dakota people.

Referenced resources during group discussions

Further Readings