February 05, 2009

The myth of SuAnne Big Crow

SuAnne Big Crow, the fans in Lead and On The Rez, a myth in the makingIn his book "On The Rez," author Ian Frazier reports the story of a basketball game in the fall of 1998 between Pine Ridge and Lead in which fans were in a near frenzy, heckling the young Thorpe players by yelling epithets such as 'squaw' and 'gut-eater.' In the book, he also says some fans were waving food stamps while the school band joined in with fake-Indian drumming and a fake-Indian song.

It was at this point, according to Frazier, SuAnne Big Crow, one of the most recognized and beloved South Dakota athletes both "on" and "off" the reservation, stopped at center court, draped her warm up jacket over her shoulders and began a traditional dance and Lakota song that quieted the unruly crowd.
And:It turns out that Pine Ridge didn't play in Lead in 1988. Of course, that could be just a slip of the key stroke, because they did play there in 1987. But there was only one account of the incident, told years later upon Big Crow's death, and it appeared in the Lakota Times.

Those who played in the game, including Pine Ridge players, couldn't remember the slurs, the band, the dance. But it remains a permanent part of Big Crow's legacy.

Harlan wrote a piece to the New York Times; Frazier, in turn, rebutted Harlan's claims, but rather weakly. In his rebuttal, Frazier wrote: "Mr. Harlan considers me remiss in not checking the story with people in Lead. I regret that I didn't, because I want my reporting to be as thorough as possible. But given the town's reputation and the evidence I found to support it, I do not feel I was being unfair, in the big picture, to Lead."

Basically, it might not be true, but it could be.

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