Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hail The Enchanted Buffalo

Before November slips away, I want to call attention to it as Native American Heritage Month, a month designated to honor Native American history, culture, and traditions. This post shows what can happen when a publisher finds just the right illustrator for a story.

L. Frank Baum, best known for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a newspaper man in South Dakota in the late 1800's. He went on to write the Oz books and many other books for children, including the fairy tale The Enchanted Buffalo.

The South Dakota State Historical Press recently released The Enchanted Buffalo as part of its award-winning Prairie Tales series, illustrated by South Dakota artist Donald F. Montileaux. Montileaux's previous work for this publisher earned the book Tatanka and the Lakota People five awards.

Montileaux creates his illustrations to tell a story, using backgrounds similar to those his Lakota ancestors would have used--ledger books, hides, and rock walls. He names Oscar Howe and Herman Red Elk as his mentors. Montileaux's mission is to portray the Lakota honestly, as they lived their lives. In the case of The Enchanted Buffalo, he used Lakota symbols, colors, and designs to give the buffalo characters their personalities. Montileaux's art has earned him world recognition and many awards, and this book will likely add another.

Montileaux enjoys meeting lovers of art and story. He has two book signings scheduled for later this week in Rapid City. Look for him at Indian art markets, and he will likely tell--or show--you a story.

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