Passing down wisdom

Native American author to share insights from new book

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Native American elders still teach the children of their tribe by telling stories.

Author Joseph M. Marshall III will be reading some of those tales from his new book, "Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance," at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore on Thursday.

The book is about a tribal elder who counsels a young man grieving for his father.

"He goes to his grandfather to ask about life and he responds through telling stories," Marshall said. "That's what a lot of native elders do, even today. They don't really instruct or direct. Most of the time, they would tell a story to illustrate a point."

Marshall was primarily raised by his maternal grandparents on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. The grandfather in his book, Old Hawk, is a composite of all of Marshall's grandparents.

"The grandfather is giving the grandson the benefit of insight and his own experience, which all of my grandparents did for me," Marshall said.

The message of the book is about how to persevere and never quit.

"If we don't, then the negative aspects of life will win and we will not have known the kind of life we know," Marshall said. "Life is a series of choices and it's better not to give up."

He uses the wolf as the symbol of perseverance in the book.

"Mainstream American society totally misunderstands the wolf. They think they are nothing but slovenly killers, which is not the truth," Marshall said. "Wolves are very honest creatures, like all animals. They fail more than they succeed, but they keep going. If they quit, they don't live - it's as simple as that."

Marshall's book is a compilation of dialogues, stories and recollections, and he will read four or five of those passages on Thursday.

"I think all the stories speak to a certain aspect of hope and what hope is," he said.

Although his grandfather is no longer alive, Marshall would like to think he knows about this book.

"I would hope that he approve the whole truth of it," he said. "He tried to teach all of his grandchildren, no matter how hard things got, you just never give up."

- To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204

or e-mail aplean@steamboatpilot.com

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