Lakota: An Illustrated History, by Sergio Macedo, Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, Ariz., 1996,$18.95.
The Lakota, or Teton Sioux, were prominent in the Indian wars, with such leaders as Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, and their courageous deeds as warriors certainly look splendid in the beautiful illustrations that fill this all-color 56-page book. Brazil-born Sergio Macedo, who now lives on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, paints in acrylic on paper, and it is his stunning graphic art that makes Lakota: An Illustrated History so appealing. The story is told in panels with dialogue balloons, but the details and accuracy of his brushwork go several gigantic steps beyond comic book art. He has done a lot of research, and his images are often based on historic photos or paintings. For example, on P. 27, he gives a colorful version of the famous 19th-century photograph that shows a scalped buffalo hunter with a soldier and a scout kneeling beside him. And on P. 44, in showing the end of George Armstrong Custer’s immediate command at the Little Bighorn, he obviously has relied heavily on Montana artist Edgar Paxson’s 1899 masterpiece Custer’s Last Stand. One major difference is that Custer stands out, even though wounded, in Paxson’s work. Macedo, on the other hand, does not show Custer at all, saying that “he was among the first to fall. He lay forgotten while the soldiers fought desperately on the hilltop.” The story is entirely told from the point of view of the Lakota, mostly through the fictional character Thunder Eagle, who was based on two historic Lakota figures, the visionary Black Elk and the medicine man Lame Deer. Not everyone will go for his view of history (similar perhaps to Kevin Costner’s view in Dances With Wolves), but the artist’s pictures will not disappoint many.