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Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) physician Robert H. Ruby arrived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to oversee the health needs of the Oglala Sioux tribe during a period of significant transformation and change in federal Indian policies. As Ruby came to know the individuals living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and as he grew more acquainted with the stories, traditions, and cultural systems of the Sioux, he was compelled to collect his observations and opinions on this tribe, considered at the time one of the most resistant to white culture and BIA “civilizing” efforts. Originally published in 1955, Ruby’s book The Oglala Sioux presents a vibrant picture of the ways in which the lives of these American Indians were altered under the influence of the U.S. government, and it details the deep and in many ways heroic struggle of the Sioux to recover and maintain their culture and sovereignty. Through Ruby’s work as a doctor on the reservation and through this compelling and informative narrative, he advocated understanding, compassion, and, in keeping with the tenor of the times in which he both lived and labored, change.
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