Double Woman (Native American Studies Book)
This book is a study of the infamously fabled Double Woman from the perspective of the relationship between art and myth.
Recognition of duality and polar opposites is a widespread, if not universal cultural phenomenon. Examples of binary structures surround us: day vs. night, male vs. female, brith vs. death, good vs. evil. Such structure exists prominently in Lakota mythology, whose pantheon consists of a number of personalities, each of whom can be generally categorized into good and evil.
In Lakota myths, Double Woman is an intriguing phenomenon, often with various manifestations. In Michele D. Burger’s book, Double Woman, the author shares some interesting depictions of Double Woman found in Native culture. For example, one manifestation is that of Anukite (Double Face or Face on Both Sides), a character that appears in the creation and emergence myths. The second manifestation is Winyan nunpapika (Double Woman), who looks like two women tied together, often with a doll, mirror, or ball hanging between them. Then, there is a third manifestation called Sinte Sapela Win (Black-Tailed Deer Woman), who seems to hunters as a temptress, seducing them to either madness or death!
Double Woman, however, is more than just these mere manifestations that we see in Native mythology. She’s also the representation of duality – polar opposites contrasting against one another such as: night and day, man and woman, or the notorious contest of good versus evil. Moreover, Double Woman doesn’t just symbolize one side more than the other. Therefore, she’s not all man, or all woman. Nor is she all good or all evil. In essence, she represents the power of choice to be one, the other, or a little bit of both. Furthermore, this conceived notion of choice reflects in today’s society where it helps build the foundations for a meaningful life. In addition, it’s the small, everyday deeds that we choose to do or not do that fundamentally shape who we are. It’s all about embracing the duality inside ourselves and finding the balance between the two. As a result, Double Woman is the embodiment of our choices, and it’s ultimately our choices that are going to define us in the end whether that be down a path of good or evil.
Review by Brittany Davila
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- Michele D. Burger
- Publication Details:
- Lakota Books, 1999
- Book Details:
- Paperback, 90 pages