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1937 Iktomi Map of the Idealized Lilawaste American Indian Refuge

Lilawaste Lake Country refuge-to-be. - Main View

1937 Iktomi Map of the Idealized Lilawaste American Indian Refuge


Comprehensive proposal for justice for Native peoples.


Lilawaste Lake Country refuge-to-be.
  1937 (undated)     15 x 29 in (38.1 x 73.66 cm)


An engrossing and poignant map that merits hours of close study, this is a highly detailed and acerbic proposal for a 'Lilawaste Lake Country Refuge' drawn by the pseudonymous Iktomi. It appeared in the 1937 book America Needs Indians!, by the same author, a creative and combative work that sharply criticizes White society's destruction of indigenous cultures and proposes measures for maintaining and even reviving the latter.
A Closer Look
Iktomi lays out a comprehensive proposal for an Indian refuge for the 'Akota (Lakota and Dakota) peoples. Every potential facet or problem has been anticipated, with plans sketched for reviving native flora and fauna, ensuring sanitation, managing visitors and tourists, staging sporting events, a range of hunting regulations, and more. Some of these ideas were a bit outlandish, such as 'sham' battle reenactments, including 'very realistic scalping,' and in at least one place he has crossed out one of the proposed measures after a second thought.

Aside from the copious text throughout, illustrations depict people, animals, and activities, including Native American symbols for people and animals. The border is filled with pleas for action addressed to the non-Indian reader, including contrasting couplets such as: 'Your Opportunity, Our Last Chance' and 'Your Failure or Indifference, Our Doom!'

No identifiable geographic markers are included, suggesting that this was not tied to any specific location but was an idealized landscape (the phrase 'Lilawaste' in the title is derived from the Lakota word for 'best'). However, Iktomi's own background would suggest a location in the upper portion of the Great Plains, while references to Canadian agencies at top, as well as the inclusion of large lakes and winter sports, implies that the author imagined the refuge to be in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, the historic homeland of many Dakota. At the same time, near bottom, the map calls for no international boundaries on refuge land.
An Enigmatic Author
The author's penname is derived from Iktomi, a trickster figure in Lakota culture. Paula Wagoner, in her essay 'The Search for an Honest Man: Iktomi Hcala as an Ethnohistorical and Humanistic Conundrum,' identifies Itkomi Hcala or Iktomi Lila Sika as Ivan Drift, a White man without American Indian heritage who nevertheless lived most of his life at the Pine Ridge Reservation and had a deep knowledge of Lakota language and culture. America Needs Indians! and other materials produced by this individual were written in a sarcastic, confrontational, and often enigmatic manner, in keeping with the character of Iktomi.
To Save a Race from Oblivion! To Save America from Eternal Total Disgrace
America Needs Indians! begins with a long letter to the contemporary Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier (known for his opposition to assimilation policies and for being the architect of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, also known as the 'Indian New Deal'). It represents the most complete and public of several entreaties made to Collier and other government officials by Iktomi/Ivan Drift. Though his proposed Indian Refuges did not come to fruition, some of the ideas presented here, such as tribal colleges and presumed perpetual tribal hunting and fishing rights, were enacted several decades later through legislation and court decisions. Iktomi's notion, expressed elsewhere, of establishing similar refuges on national park land also presaged present-day conversations about transferring (returning) management of federal park land to indigenous peoples.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Iktomi Lila Sika (elsewhere as Itkomi Hcala) for the book America Needs Indians! (OCLC 3410457), published in Denver in 1937 by Bradford-Robinson. The map is only independently cataloged by the Boston Public Library and is scarce to the market while the book is more widely distributed in institutions.


Itkomi Hcala (Iktomi Lila Sika, Ivan Drift; fl c. 1930 - 1940) was a Caucasian man who lived most of his adult life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was a student of Lakota language and culture as well as a strong advocate for the rights of Native peoples, adopting the persona of the Lakota mythological trickster figure Iktomi. More by this mapmaker...


Itkomi, Hcala, America Needs Indians! (Unexpurgated Edition), (Denver: Bradford-Robinson) 1937.    


Very good. Light creasing along fold lines.


OCLC 1345477815.