N.D. - Joseph M. Marshall III is a teacher, writer, actor and traditional
storyteller who celebrates his heritage in his book and CD "The
Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living" (published by Viking
Compass and Makoché Records, respectively). The CD version
of the Lakota stories won the 2004 Audio Publishers Association
"Audie" Award for Best Spiritual and Inspirational Recording.
new book is set for release in October, "The Journey of Crazy
Horse: A Lakota History", which is based on Lakota oral history
about the great leader. An excerpt will be published in the September
issue of Cowboys and Indians Magazine.
of the most striking concepts of Marshalls work is his stance
on the storytelling tradition of the Indian people. He rejects the
concept that only written history is correct because he knows the
care traditional storytellers take in keeping track of tribal history.
"With the stories in The Lakota Way more than one
person knew all of the stories and sometimes someone would have
a slightly different version," Marshall told Indian Country
are stories that all of the old people, the elders knew and they
would talk about the stories and how their version compared to how
someone else told it. As a child you dont realize whats
really happening, but looking back on it as an adult I wish I would
have paid more attention to it, or that I had a better memory for
certain details. But they were simply carrying on a tradition they
learned from their parents and grandparents, the tradition of imparting
knowledge through stories."
said he was drawn to Makoché records because they put out
not only American Indian music, but spoken word CDs also. The album
became an audio representation of the book with sound effects and
music provided by such major Indian performers as Keith Bear, Joseph
FireCrow and Andrew Vasquez.
felt that we didnt need to enhance the stories, but we needed
to make it more interesting and appealing," Marshall said.
"I dont play flute myself, but I have always been fascinated
with it, especially when it is coming from someone like Joseph FireCrow;
he knows what hes doing, hes aware of tradition, and
he is aware of the storytelling process, so it became a natural
whole intent of the CD was to put those stories in the oral form,
the way they should be heard. The people who originally told me
the stories inspired me with their style, how they told the story,
and how they used words as a very visual mechanism. I try to copy
those types of things."
used his skills as a storyteller to create the new biography of
Crazy Horse, and he compared his stories to recorded history, but
he doesnt accept the idea that only the dominant cultures
views are correct.
a biography of Crazy Horse from our viewpoint, the Lakota viewpoint,
and Ive recorded that as well, so a CD will come out at the
same time as the book," Marshall said. "I try to use that
same style of a storyteller to tell the story about this mans
life. It needed to be a biography, and it needed to be based on
the facts, but I didnt want to write it in that dry, historical,
point-by-point style; those kinds of books lose me after awhile.
So as I am a storyteller, I decided the best way to tell the story
of Crazy Horse was as if I were in a room or under a tree, telling
the story to a group of people.
lot of people assume that the only information about Indians that
is reliable is the documented information; and they say that memory
is unreliable, but thats not true. In any Native culture,
anywhere, there are stories that white historians have never heard
and will never hear, because we are very guarded about such things.
I grew up hearing bits and pieces of things about Crazy Horse from
many different people, and thats my source."
Oct. 11 Viking/Penguin will publish Marshalls sixth book,
"The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History." The author
is also working on an on-line novel, "The Archer" which
can be read at http://www.thunderdreamers.com.