A Doctor among the Oglala Sioux Tribe


A Doctor among the Oglala Sioux Tribe

The Letters of Robert H. Ruby, 1953-1954

Robert H. Ruby
Edited and with an introduction by Cary C. Collins and Charles V. Mutschler

448 pages
13 b&w photos, 5 maps, 4 figures, appendix


May 2010


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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May 2010


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About the Book

In 1953 young surgeon Robert H. Ruby began work as the chief medical officer at the hospital on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He began writing almost daily to his sister, describing the Oglala Lakota people he served, his Bureau of Indian Affairs colleagues, and day-to-day life on the reservation.
Ruby and his wife were active in the social life of the non-white community, which allowed Ruby, also a self-trained ethnographer, to write in detail about the Oglala Lakota people and their culture, covering topics such as religion, art, traditions, and values. His frank and personal depiction of conditions he encountered on the reservation examines poverty, alcoholism, the educational system, and employment conditions and opportunities. Ruby also wrote critically of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, describing the bureaucracy that made it difficult for him to do his job and kept his hospital permanently understaffed and undersupplied. These engaging letters provide a compelling memoir of life at Pine Ridge in the mid-1950s.

Author Bio

Robert H. Ruby (1921–2013) is the author of numerous books, including Oglala Sioux: Warriors in Transition, available in a Bison Books edition. Cary C. Collins is the editor of Assimilation’s Agent: My Life as a Superintendent in the Indian Boarding School System (Nebraska 2007) and Oglala Sioux: Warriors in Transition, available in a Bison Books edition. Charles V. Mutschler is the university archivist at the Eastern Washington University Archives and the author of Wired for Success: The Butte, Anaconda, and Pacific Railway, 1892–1985.


"These letters provide a unique glimpse into life at Pine Ridge as well as insights into the daily workings of the IHS."—M.J. Schneider, CHOICE

Table of Contents

Editors' Introduction
Chronology of Significant Events
Note on Provenance and Methodology
1. August, 1953
2. September, 1953
3. October, 1953
4. November, 1953
5. December, 1953
6. January, 1954
7. February, 1954
8. March, 1954
9. April, 1954
10. May, 1954
11. June, 1954
12. July, 1954
13. August, 1954
14. September, 1954
15. October, 1954
16. November, 1954
17. December, 1954
Editors' Postscript

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