Mountain Wolf Woman Biography

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(Native Americans: A Comprehensive History)

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Article abstract: Mountain Wolf Woman's autobiography is a unique account of adaptation of traditional Winnebago lifeways to modern conditions.

In 1958, Mountain Wolf Woman spoke into a tape recorder in the presence of her adopted kinswoman, Nancy Oestreich Lurie, who then edited a translation from Winnebago into English to produce Mountain Wolf Woman's autobiography, Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder (1961). The youngest of seven children, Mountain Wolf Woman was a member of an extraordinary Winnebago family: She was the younger sister of Crashing Thunder (Sam Blowsnake), who worked with anthropologist Paul Radin , supplying him with most of the material for the myth cycle called the Trickster (1956), Sam Blowsnake's autobiography Crashing Thunder (1926), and the ethnology The Winnebago Tribe (1923).

Mountain Wolf Woman's life involved her own education in traditional Winnebago culture and her work in preserving and passing on that culture to her descendants. Mountain Wolf Woman was married twice, the first time reluctantly to a husband chosen by her brother, and later to a man named Bad Soldier. She had eleven children and was the caregiver for many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mountain Wolf Woman embraced three major religious traditions in her life, weaving into an integrated philosophy Winnebago traditional beliefs and practices, Christian theology, and the peyote rituals of the Native American Church.

Further Reading

Lurie, Nancy Oestreich, ed. Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder: The Autobiography of a Winnebago Indian. Foreword by Ruth Underhill. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961.