Monday, September 21, 2009


Lance Foster's new book, "The Indians of Iowa," is now in print.

You can actually read the first 25 pages of this book online for FREE through Google books, and those pages have the chapter about the Ioway in it:\
I doubt you can click right on this link. You'll have to cut and paste it or just search at Google books.

Lance says: “Nope. I don't get any money for this Google stuff. In fact, if I ever get any money for the book, maybe $1 for every book sold I hear, the Press only pays the royalties once a year-- and I won't know if/how much until next August (2010). Anyone who thinks authors of books get rich ---hahaha! --are sadly mistaken, unless that author is Stephen King!

“Oh well, the way I look at it is that it's not much different than someone reading a book in a bookstore...if they like it, usually they will buy it, and if they don't, then they saved their money :-)”

This is the link to an article in the Helena Independent Record:

This is Lance’s art blog:

* * * * * * *

Going to the art blog site will give you access to photos, a mini-graphic legend, and other places that Lance Foster posts. Readers of “Prairie Mary” have become accustomed to his insightful comments, often daily monitoring which I appreciate very much. Lance’s great strength is that he is both multi-cultural (Native American + Euro) and multi-disciplinary: landscape architecture, archeology, NA history, and art plus a good deal of knowledge of Euro systems of legend and psychic theory. As is often typical of NA’s, he has a lively sense of of humor, for example this book cover which I hope will make it onto my blog. (Google has new rules about what images can be reproduced.)

If you can’t see it, a warrior on a galloping horse aims his nocked arrow at the sky. The moon that is his backdrop is a crescent holding the dark moon in its “arms.” The rider wears jeans and a t-shirt with a cell phone for a logo, as well as a ball cap with an eagle feather attached to the button. His horse is running down a highway with a tilting power pole in the background. A great image of syncretism in good humor!

Another of his entertaining images is an Indian offering Van Gogh, bandaged where he cut off his ear, a replacement ear -- of corn. His art is straightforward: strong lines and images, well-composed, and story-telling. He himself does not have the blade-like face we often associate with images of NA’s, so rather often his art shows massive monolithic faces like his own, especially when he is dealing with “spirits.” He has a profound interest in the supernatural, skeptical and believing at once. That is, he is strong in his belief that SOMETHING is there, but open-minded about what it might be or what it might mean.

Lance Foster
is not recognized by the art power-brokers of the state of Montana, neither the cowboy art cartel that values 19th century images nor the humanities/academic gate-keepers who have a captive clientele that includes very few Indians. He has academic credentials: some of his degrees from the University of Montana. We sometimes talk about organizing a salon de refusee for artists, writers, and those who combine both categories. It’s hard to know why the exclusion: oversight? Failure to fit the stereotypes? Failure to flatter the right people? Politics? We don’t even know what our guest list might look like, just that we run into others all the time. Maybe blogging below the radar will bring us together. Or maybe it will break us apart into allegiance to larger networks, national, continental or even planetary.

Lance’s new book is an example of clarity after thorough research. He doesn’t try to include every fact known to historians, but there are some strong new ideas here, mostly about the swarm of explorers who came on the heels of Lewis & Clark & Sacajawea, destroying the ways of the People in decades. In fact, that may account for some of the lack of inclusion, since there are people invested in supporting the uniqueness and prowess of the two celebrated explorers. Lance talks about Moses Reed, who deserted the expedition and was captured by the Otoe. It was a military expedition and therefore could legitimately by Euro law have executed Reed, but the Otoe made a case for merely forcing him to run a gauntlet of the exploring party -- that is, running between two lines of the men who would strike him as hard as they could. This was their “gentler” convention.

Ioway Marie Dorion was the Sacajawea of the Oregon Trail, going with John Jacob Astor and barely escaping when the party was massacred on the way back. She had been the wife of Pierre Dorion, hired to be the interpreter, and she traveled with two small children plus being pregnant. After the escape with her children, she trekked 250 winter miles in near-starvation until they joined the Umatilla tribe where they stayed for the rest of their lives.

About the only names that pop up as familiar in my mind are Black Hawk, a war chief, and Spirit Lake, a massacre made famous by MacKinley Cantor’s massive novel of that name. As usual, we cling to the sensational. But Lance has supplemented each historical chapter with a more personal and contemporary reflection about something like mixed blood people or modern pow wows.

The principal of the high school in Heart Butte, Robin Krantz, is one of the Ioway Sioux Lance describes. The tribespeople there have been using “Ioway” to designate the tribe and Iowa for the state name to keep them separate. She is married to a white man but both have lived in Heart Butte a long time so they are woven into community life. I don’t think anyone in that community knows Lance or his work, so I’ll have to make sure I get a copy of this blog to Robin.

Lance Foster
is not getting rich, but he is not giving up. He is rich in ideas, living “the life” without knowing the future -- a modern hunter-gatherer. We can learn a lot from him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting fellow but looks like he doesn't live in Montana anymore.