In Lakota tradition, the bow and arrow were more than tools for hunting or battle. The bow’s resilience and flexibility, the arrow’s grace and power, the archer’s focus and patience—in these, we find the essential qualities for living a life of strength, purpose,and simplicity. In The Lakota Way of Strength and Courage, Joseph M. Marshall builds upon the central metaphor of the bow and arrow to provide a treasury of insights, stories, and irreplaceable wisdom. With eloquent prose and an elder’s perspective, Marshall draws from traditional stories, the history of the Lakota, and his own experiences to offer timeless lessons on:
Transformation—what the journey of the Lakota people teaches us about preserving what is essential as our external circumstances change
Simplicity—the story of Grandmother Grass Braid, who understood that “the more you know, the less you need to carry”
Purpose—how the world unveils our purpose to us, as revealed in the story of the Keeper of the Winter Count
Strength—the moving story of Henry One Bull, and how adversity teaches us to develop the true core of our strength
Resiliency—the lessons of Grandma Red Leaf on facing the challenges of life with the best we have to offer
Once, the Lakota people relied on the ash bow and the willow arrow to provide food and sustenance. Today, these simple tools can offer us something even more precious: a way to nourish our souls with spiritual wisdom. Joseph M. Marshall offers a book that is at once profound, honest, and rich with meaning as he reveals The Lakota Way of Strength and Courage.
The Lakota people have kept their dignity and traditions intact despite decades of difficulties and strife, adapting as necessary despite profound concerns about their future. Historian and craftsman Marshall (The Lakota Way) attributes this survival to five lessons from Lakota mythology: transformation, simplicity, purpose, strength, and resilience. Telling stories from myth, modern culture, and his own life, Marshall utilizes the crafting of a simple ash wood bow and a willow arrow as a metaphor of transformation in the face of changing circumstances. The bow represents the moon, and the arrow the sun; these bows and arrows were traditionally crafted by every single male in the Lakota village beginning at age 12. Marshall is extremely skeptical of the value and meaning of modern technology ("Computers, cell phones, and printers do not inspire me to think of my life and the kind of person I might be"), and harks back to the wisdom of his ancestors to follow what's truly important. This slim volume maintains a deliberately small and focused voice, but despite its genuine wisdom, it may have difficulty reaching a broad audience.