A Little White Bird & Little White Lies

Little White Bird is banking on the hope that people will feel sorry for her and buy her book about her experience of living on the Pine Ridge Reservation for six months and how it traumatized her so badly she had no memory of the whole experience for seven years. She wants people to believe she is donating part of the profit to a women’s shelter for the reservation because while in a relationship with a tribal member there she was in an abusive relationship. She claims the reservation needs help for women in domestic violence situations, and that part is true. There is no shelter or safe house on the reservation. Women are transported off the reservation to shelters. However, the book about this violent relationship, which, I don’t doubt because I am a survivor of domestic violence myself, it is just that she still sells this man’s artwork at her book signings, professes her loves to him on Facebook, and calls him the Lakota word for spouse, even though he is in real life married to a Lakota woman. I know the bonds of emotional abuse may still exist but it is hard to see him still banking off a woman who writes about what a horrible person he is. Especially when you wonder if any profit is really going for a domestic violence shelter on the reservation.

See this is the problem with people who come to our reservation seeking the romanticism of movies such as Dances With Wolves or books that usually display a Native man in a breech cloth on the cover with a white woman bent over looking in his eyes. This is not reality, there are no fairy tales on our reservation except in the form of basketball and state tournaments when one of our teams go in as the Cinderella team and take it to the white schools.

The book starts out by telling you the author left home because her parents did not want her around her younger sisters. So she lived in a chicken coop at the age of 18. she slept with a gun to protect herself from wild bears and wolves yet could not build a fire because of the fact that the chicken coop was inside city limits. She talks of her trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and how many of the motels in South Dakota didn’t have running water and would advertise “We have running water.” Anyone who lives in South Dakota can tell you this is not true, also I am pretty sure they HAVE to have running water to operate a motel. I am sure there are some kind of health code violations that make it mandatory, I mean after all this is not the 1800’s, it’s South Dakota.

She describes the housing on the reservation “These structures were not traditional tipis of the ancestors, but creations of garbage and scraps. these were not houses but piles of rusted corrugated sheet metal, tattered tarps, and cardboard stacked together to create shelters.”
She also describes how people who live in these creations of garbage will stick plastic food wrappers in the holes of their house to keep warm. Now, I know of all the money HUD receives not all of it makes it to our tribal housing department. I know there is a shortage of housing on the reservation, and many people live in one house which wears it down more. I know people who use clear plastic to winterize their homes and keep the cold out, but I don’t know anyone who lives in a pile of trash. And I find it disturbing how someone who lived in a chicken coop is so judgmental.

I could go on and on about the book and it’s stories of sexcapades with an older Lakota man she calls a Chief, or lack thereof because of his impotency. I could tell you how offensive it is to Lakota people, and the picture she paints of how we are because she had a bad experience financially with one man and his family. I could tell you how she claims to be an honorary member of our tribe, when we don’t really have honorary members. In six months, she became the expert on Lakota culture, so much so she is planning and has opened fundraising websites to write Lakota children’s books.

I could tell you how she says women have their roles on the reservation and are not allowed to do certain things, but you can, if desired, listen to that in her podcast interview, which I link below.

But I won’t go into detail about this book. Who knows, it could all be true. It could be she did find a family living in a pile of trash. Maybe there are motels in this state with no running water, maybe she is an honorary member of our tribe, who knows.

Except, what I do know is there is no publisher that “took a chance on her book” as she mentioned in a podcast interview. Passer Press is the publisher of her book. Shelly Ott founded Passer Press in 2013 and claims to make $75,000 in annual income in this link.
Passer Press tweets with Little White Bird on Twitter, congratulating her on her book sales and talks of how proud they are to publish her book and excited for her second book.
little white bird 2

Shelly Ott, managing editor of Passer Press, announces the release of the book by Little White Bird here.

And here on the podcast of Raven Hawk Radio in an interview with Little White Bird, she proudly admits she is also the artist of her book cover. The artist of her book cover listed on the inside of her book, is Shelly Ott. Little White Bird is Shelly Ott.

So if she lies about her publisher, which is herself, how are we to believe her “book of truth?”

This “part Cherokee” woman went to the reservation with her Dances with Wolves Dream, became an expert on our culture, and is now exploiting her six months of a bad relationship as to who we are, when she doesn’t even know if she is: white or Cherokee, publisher or author, Shelly Ott or Little White Bird.

I did find some truth I can quote her on in the book.

“I wanted to listen. I wanted to hear it all, soak it in, understand and become Lakota. But bottom line, I am white; my heart cannot change the color of my skin.”

Ms. Ott, a/k/a Little White Bird, I found your book to be a misrepresentation of who we are, because you fell in love with an abusive man. I am sorry you went through that abuse, but we are more than what you depicted us as. Maybe your experience was your reality but it is not ours. Lakota women are stronger than you know and not put in their place on the their own reservation. In fact, if you anger one enough, they may put you in your place. Which is in a chicken coop in Connecticut somewhere? Right?

Lakota men, be careful of those Stands With a Fist auditions, you never know…

17 thoughts on “A Little White Bird & Little White Lies

  1. Pingback: A Little White Bird & Little White Lies | sicanguscribbler

    • What does that mean? Is it meant as a slight towards Oklahoma Cherokees, Oklahomans, Cherokees, or was it sincere?

      I would be curious to understand how inter-tribal perceptions work. It seems a lot like regional prejudices. “Salsa made in New York City” etc.

      What makes one ‘part,’ what makes on ‘pure,’ what makes one an impostor, etc?

      Is this woman’s story less true because she was not Lakota? What would have been the perception if she were?

  2. Thank you for speaking truth in an intellectual and classy way. I am Lakota as well with most of it being Oglala but enrolled in Rosebud, I take offense to her writing and I’m sure my friends and family on Pine Ridge will too

  3. I know this woman. We became friends on Twitter. She would not tell me much about herself saying. “That’s in my book.” I thought she was Native, until I read this horrifically sexually graphic crap about “Chief Two Bear Paws”. I knocked him off right away. This man is no chief. She was enamored with Mary Crow Dog. Went to WK to find her (lol). I believe this is her attempt at Lakota Woman. smh

  4. This is so sad. I am a white chick who lived on Pine Ridge off and on for over eight years and didn’t have any such experience! When I moved to Porcupine I was surrounded by nothing but unconditional love and respect. The Lakota people taught me their culture, spirituality and trusted me with their children. I worked at Little Wound School where I surrounded by intelligent, caring men and women. It was the most wonderful time in my life. My book, INDIAN EYES, will tell the real story about life on the rez however, the Lakota people don’t need anyone to speak for them. They are the most knowable and accountable people I know.

  5. ugh! this is terrible. who DOES that? i love how you write about the discover that she IS Shelley Ott. Definitely won’t be reading anything by her or her “publishing company.”

  6. Man… I lived in Kyle for about two years. Only thing Lakota I became an expert on, was what time the mail was delivered to P.O. Boxes at the Post Office. I saw a lot of crap happen on Pine Ridge during that time, but the women were never “put in their place”. True, women experiencing domestic violence are sent off rez. One ningashiban’s friends stayed with us for a few days, while a room at one the shelters in Rapid City was readied for her and her son. Blegh!!! These damn chi mookomaaniwag always coming to NDN Country and have a slight bad experience and try to make a fortune off it. Yet, we Natives try to write about out bad experience living in America, and they all tell us to “get over it”. Well Little White Bird… GET OVER IT!!!! Chi miigwetch Dana, for bringing this to our attentions. 😀

  7. “Little White Bird” contacted me on Twitter just after Mary Richards (Brave Bird) passed on last February. I knew Mary and am very close to her family. I first found her name to be quite odd (Little White Bird) and was questioning if she is for real or not. She began asking me questions about how Mary had passed. I didn’t know if she knew Mary or not, but she said she had a family member that was close to Leonard Crow Dog and would call him to get the full story. Frankly, I have found her entire demeanor to be rather fake and a little “off” (and, I’m mostly white with some Dakota ancestry and still knew something wasn’t right about this chick). No matter. As long as people keeping spreading the word of her falsehoods, the more discredited and discounted her “memoir” shall be. Thank you, Dana, for a wonderful, intelligently written and insightful review!!

    And, I’m just going to put this out there, if you’re interested in a *real* memoir to read, I’m working with Mary’s daughter, Jenny, to write Mary’s third and final book of the last 20 years of her life, picking up where the last book “Ohitika Woman”, left off until her passing last year. Jenny is writing it entirely from her own perspective and I’m just helping her with the editing. We hope it will be a great representation of the woman we both loved and admired. I can’t say as to when it will be out as that we are still in the beginning stages of the project, but I will be happy to let you know when it’s ready. (End of the my little “plug” 🙂 )

    As Mary always told me, “Keep to the old ways and pray!”

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