Waterlily is a book based on the events that happen within a particular Dakota Indian family’s life. Not only does it depict the affairs of blue Bird’s life and her family, but it documents the rituals and culture of the Dakota people. With illustrative words and graphic details, the incidences within the story can be visualized and understood.
The story begins with the occurrences that take place with a certain individual, Blue Bird. Blue Bird is traveling with a camp of Dakotas and is carrying a baby while doing so. While on the path, Blue Bird feels it is time to have her baby and went off into the trees to have her baby. Seeing how beautiful her baby was Blue Bird exclaimed, “How beautiful you are! As beautiful as the waterlillies. You to are a waterlily, my waterlily.” (p. 6).
Blue Bird ends up marrying a man, Star Elk, whom doesn’t favor her grandmother very much. Star Elk is a lazy, jealous man who is sub-standard in Dakota male value. He demonstrates this effectively when he “throws away his wife” (p. 16) at a victory dance. Men weren’t suppose to publicly display emotion in Dakota tradition.
After being publicly humiliated, Blue Bird, her grandmother and Waterlily luckily and happily ran into their family’s tiyospaye. The reason why it was so fortunate is because Blue Birds parents and brothers were killed one day when Blue Bird was about fourteen. They were taken in and made to feel at home. Along with finding their family, Blue Bird also met her new husband, Rainbow. Rainbow was a good provider, hard worker and a widow who had a son. Little Chief. Together, Rainbow and Blue Bird would have two more children.
One of the major customs that was most interesting was that of the Sun Dance. Here, Dakota men would fast and dance continuously. If any requests from the men to the Gods were made, the men paid back their request at this time. It was truly a dance of thanks and praise for their most fortunate gifts.