State Historical Society ‘Tasunka’ book featured in Atlanta children’s program

Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend is featured in the November Artful Stories program at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, located on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

The multi-award-winning South Dakota State Historical Society book, written and illustrated by Oglala Lakota artist Donald F. Montileaux, has received high praise since its publication in 2014.Montileaux - Tasunka (CI)

The Carlos Museum designed Artful Stories for preschool children. The program combines art and literacy to build vocabulary, flexible thinking, problem-solving skills and fine motor skills. Picture books are chosen for their quality and connection to current museum exhibits. In November, the course centers around Tasunka, which teaches children about ledger-style drawings. The book accompanies the Carlos Museum’s exhibit “Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection.”

“We are thrilled to be offering Montileaux’s Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend as part of our Artful Stories program,” says Alyson Vuley from the Education Department of the Carlos Museum. “Each child involved with the program will receive a beautiful hardcover copy of ‘Tasunka’ to help them learn about the pictographic art of the Plains peoples.”

In addition to reading Tasunka, participants will create a pictorial shield based on an artifact at the Carlos Museum by Joseph No Two Horns, the man who is believed to have carved the South Dakota State Historical Society’s Great Sioux Horse Effigy. The effigy recently returned from a two-year world tour and is on display at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Tasunka is a story of adventure, discovery, loss and renewal, set to beautiful illustrations that illuminate the story of the horse and its importance to the Plains people. Readers journey with a young warrior as he tracks a strange new creature across the Plains and discover the destructive nature of power as well as a lesson in redemption.

Montileaux uses traditional storytelling methods to impart wisdom to new generations, and through the Lakota translation by Agnes Gay, Tasunka preserves an important piece of Lakota culture. Tasunka is dedicated to Alex White Plume, who first told the legend to Montileaux.

Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend is available for $19.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit, call (605) 773-6009 or

To find out more about the Carlos Museum and its exhibits, please visit


New Biography from State Historical Society Focuses on Red Cloud

McDermott - Red Cloud (CI)Pierre, S.D.—A larger-than-life figure in the history of the West, Red Cloud is the only American Indian leader who defeated the United States Army in a war. In Red Cloud: Oglala Legend, the latest book from the South Dakota State Historical Society, author John D. McDermott examines the Sioux leader’s rise to prominence, his struggle against cultural domination and the victory that closed Bozeman Trail in 1868.

“With Red Cloud, McDermott has used little-known sources to illuminate the early childhood and worldview of this historical legend who lived during a time of great upheaval for his people,” says Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Born in 1821 in present-day Nebraska, Red Cloud fought to keep non-Indian settlers and the United States military out of his people’s territory in 1866–1868. In what would come to be known as Red Cloud’s War, the chief defeated the army but would alter his tactics from armed resistance to a long-term strategy that included diplomacy.

In his latest book, McDermott goes beyond the Oglala leader’s experience as a warrior and focuses on his time as a statesman. Chronicling his diplomatic trips to the United States Capitol, the author examines Red Cloud’s vision for maintaining Oglala life and culture.

John D. McDermott is a research historian who has written numerous articles and books on western history, including Red Cloud’s War: The Bozeman Trail, 1866–1868 (2011).  Now residing in Rapid City, McDermott served as a historian for the National Park Service and a policy director for the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. He will be speaking at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood this September. More information about the festival can be found at

Red Cloud: Oglala Legend is the fourth book in the South Dakota Biography Series. It is available for $14.95, plus shipping and tax. Published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, the biography series highlights the state’s most prominent residents. Titles from the series can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit or call (605) 773-6009.

Biography Series