Ohíye S'a (1858-1939)

Ohíye S’a (also known as Charles A. Eastman) was a Santee Sioux doctor. Raised in a Sioux community until the age of fifteen, he was then taken by his father Jacob Eastman (also known as Wak-anhdi Ota) to live in Flandreau, Dakota Territory, and attended mission schools in Dakota Territory and Nebraska. He completed a college education at Dartmouth College and then earned a medical degree at Boston University in 1890. Alongside a career as a physician and advocate for Native Americans (particularly the Sioux), Ohíye S’a was a prolific writer, writing eleven books and numerous articles to represent Native American cultures, religions, and traditions to Americans of European descent.

Ohíye S’a’s two different upbringings — first as a nomadic Sioux hunter and subsequently in a community of Native Americans who had adopted white customs — may have led to his view that Native Americans should engage directly with white society while retaining a strong cultural identity as separate from white Americans. His books document Sioux culture and he is considered the first Native American author to write American history from a Native American point of view.

Special Collections has two books written by Ohíye S’a. Indian Boyhood was his first book, a memoir of his childhood spent growing up with the Santee Sioux. Special Collections’ copy is a first edition. Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains was his final book, a collection of stories about Native American leaders, mainly from among the Sioux but also including chiefs from the Cheyenne and Nez Percé tribes.