Mardell Hogan Plainfeather will read on Saturday, May 4, at Elk River Books from The Woman Who Loved Mankind: The Life of a Twentieth Century Crow Elder, about the life of her mother, Lillian Bullshows Hogan, who was the oldest living Crow Indian at the dawn of the 21st century.
The book, co-authored by Mardell Hogan with historian Barbara Loeb, chronicles the way Lillian’s life straddled two cultures. “As a child Hogan had a miniature teepee, a fast horse, and a medicine necklace of green beads; she learned traditional arts and food gathering from her mother and experienced the bitterness of Indian boarding school. She grew up to be a complex, hard-working Native woman who drove a car, maintained a bank account, and read the local English paper but spoke Crow as her first language, practiced beadwork, tanned hides, honored clan relatives in generous giveaways, and often visited the last of the old chiefs and berdaches with her family.”
Julie Edwards, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Montana, writes in Choice Review that the authors’ reproduction of Hogan’s linguistic style adds lyricism to her story. “This fascinating book is part autobiography, part history, part memoir, part cultural guide, and part poetry… [I]t works beautifully as both the life story of an individual Crow woman and as the history of her tribe throughout and before her long life. Lillian’s stories, told in English and Apsaalooke, are left almost entirely intact, so readers experience Lillian’s words as she spoke them rather than as interpreted by her listeners.”
Mardell Hogan is a member of the Apsaalooke Nation from the Big Lodge Clan, a child of the Whistling Water Clan. She was born in Billings, raised on the reservation, and worked in a variety of government positions, including as Supervisory Park Ranger at the Fort Smith National Historic site in Arkansas. Now retired, she was an extension agent at the Little Bighorn College in Crow Agency, and Crow Field Director for the American Indian Tribal Histories Project at the Western Heritage Center in Billings.
Hogan’s talk will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Elk River Books. The event is free, open to the public, and co-sponsored by the Yellowstone Gateway Museum and Elk River Arts & Lectures.