Grandmother's Grandchild


Grandmother's Grandchild

My Crow Indian Life

Alma Hogan Snell
Edited by Becky Matthews
Preface by Peter Nabokov

American Indian Lives Series

215 pages
Illus., maps


September 2001


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

“I became what the Crows call káalisbaapite—a ‘grandmother’s grandchild.’ That means that I was always with my Grandma, and I learned from her. I learned how to do things in the old ways.”—Alma Hogan Snell

Grandmother's Grandchild is the remarkable story of Alma Hogan Snell (1923–2008), a Crow woman brought up by her grandmother, the famous medicine woman Pretty Shield. Snell grew up during the 1920s and 1930s, part of the second generation of Crows to be born into reservation life. Like many of her contemporaries, she experienced poverty, personal hardships, and prejudice and left home to attend federal Indian schools.

What makes Snell's story particularly engaging is her exceptional storytelling style. She is frank and passionate, and these qualities yield a memoir unlike those of most Native women. The complex reservation world of Crow women—harsh yet joyous, impoverished yet rich in meaning—unfolds for readers. Snell's experiences range from the forging of an unforgettable bond between grandchild and grandmother to the flowering of an extraordinary love story that has lasted more than five decades.

Author Bio

Becky Matthews teaches history at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Peter Nabokov is Professor of World Arts and Cultures at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is the author of Two Leggings: The Making of a Crow Warrior (Nebraska 1982) and other works.


"This autobiographical work is at heart the story of a special relationship that existed between the author and her grandmother, Crow medicine woman Pretty Shield. The older woman . . . raised her granddaughter to appreciate the traditions and values of a vanishing culture. In adulthood, Snell would become a preservationist of the Crow philosophy of life and a healer who combined basic Christian teachings with native respect for and understanding of the power of nature. She writes with disarming honesty about the obstacles she encountered, including poverty, illness, . . . and unwed motherhood."—Library Journal

"Her remarkable life story includes an enduring love affair enriched by pathos, traveling evangelism, a career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a period of activism, life on several reservations, and emergence as a cultural teacher. Her candor and willingness to describe intimate facets of Crow culture is unique in the literature."—Choice

"What drives this book is not so much dramatic external events but visions of an interconnected cosmos."—Booklist

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