2008-07-24 / Front Page

Author Richard Erdoes dies at home at age 96

By Archie B. Beauvais and Amanda Takes War Bonnett Special to the Times

Erdoes Erdoes SANTA FE, N.M. - Richard Erdoes , who died last, week influenced the lives of generations of Lakota people and other tribes by describing Native life and their spiritual culture and essentially preserving it for future generations.

The prominent illustrator, photographer and author of more than 30 books about the American west died last Wednesday at his home at the age of 96. More importantly, Erdoes was known for a long list of books about Native Americans including, Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions, American Indian Trickster Tales, Lakota Woman and more.

Lame Deer was a book about Sicangu Lakota John Fire and who died in the late 1970s and whose wake services were held in Winner. Lakota Woman was written about the life of Mary Brave Bird and the influences she experienced from Crow Dog.

Erdoes was born in Vienna, Austria in 1912 and when he moved to the U. S. he was a contributor to Life magazine as an illustrator and was said to be outraged at the conditions on the reservation.

He created many illustrations for Life in the 1950s and several children's books in the 1960s.

Some of his other books include, The Sun Dance People, Crying for a Dream, Crow Dog: Four Generations of Sioux Medicine Men, Native Americans, The Sioux, The Sounds of Flutes and Other Indian Legends, Ohitika Woman published in 2008 and other early books on the Pueblo and the Navajo.

Erich Erdoes said that his father first came to Pine Ridge in 1967 for a sun dance and was, in fact, always interested in other cultures. He said, "He always had an interest in other cultures. As a young man, before having to flee the Nazis in Europe, he traveled on foot to Yugoslavia. He was interested in how other people lived. He loved to travel on western trips and visited Pueblos and Indian reservations."

He also met Bob Burnette, former chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He said, "Burnett had organized a march with 50 people from Rosebud to New York City for a peace march and my father invited them all for dinner. Henry and Leonard Crow Dog were apart of the 50 that came."

He said his father's door was always open and he had beds in his living room instead of the usual couches.

Erich and his father last visited South Dakota with an Austrian film crew as they toured Bear Butte and other places. His father was given the Lakota name Inyan Wasicu by John Fire Lame Deer. In 1998 they also visited Kyle for the observance of the 25th anniversary of the AIM takeover at Wounded Knee.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday, July 22 at the El Rancho de las Golondrinas in Santa Fe.

He noted that 150 attended the memorial.

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