Ella Cara Deloria

Tripp, Hutchinson County, South Dakota, United States

Ella Cara Deloria's Geni Profile

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Ella Cara Deloria

Also Known As: "Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ (Beautiful Day Woman)"
Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: Yankton Sioux Reservation, South Dakota, United States
Death: February 12, 1971 (83)
Vermillion, Clay, South Dakota, United States of America (pulmonary embolus)
Place of Burial: Lake Andes, Charles Mix County, South Dakota, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Rev. Philip Joseph Deloria and Mary Sully
Sister of Minerva Minnie Deloria; Winnie Deloria; Rose Lyma Deloria; Philip Ulysess Deloria; Susan Mary Deloria and 1 other
Half sister of Rosa Bordeaux and Anna Bordeaux

Occupation: educator, anthropologist, ethnographer, linguist
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Ella Cara Deloria

Ella Cara Deloria (January 31, 1889 – February 12, 1971), (Yankton Dakota), also called Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ (Beautiful Day Woman), was an educator, anthropologist, ethnographer, linguist, and novelist of European American and Dakota ancestry. She recorded Sioux oral history and legends, and contributed to the study of their languages. In the 1940s, she wrote a novel, Waterlily. It was finally published in 1988, and in 2009 was issued in a new edition. She suffered a stroke in summer, 1970, and died on February 12, 1971, in Tripp, S. Dak, of a pulmonary embolus.

"one of the first truly bilingual, bicultural figures in American anthropology, and an extraordinary scholar, teacher, and spirit who pursued her own work and commitments under notoriously adverse conditions. At one point she lived out of a car while collecting material for Franz Boas."[3]

brief biography

From Ella Deloria: A Biographical Sketch written by Raymond J. DeMallie, American Indian Studies Research Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47408. July 2006

Ella Cara Deloria, who devoted much of her life to the study of the language and culture of the Sioux (Dakota and Lakota), was born January 31, 1889, on the Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation in southeastern South Dakota, near the present town of Lake Andes. She was the first-born child of the Reverend Philip Joseph Deloria and Mary Sully Deloria and was named Beautiful Day Woman (Anpetu Washte-win) in commemoration of the blizzard that raged the day of her birth. Her parents, members of the Yankton Sioux tribe, were both descended from Yankton Dakota (Sioux) and Euro-American ancestors. Her father's Dakota name was Black Lodge (Tipi Sapa); her father's father was François des Lauriers (known as Saswe, the Dakota pronunciation of François), a Yankton chief who was the son of a Frenchman and a Yankton woman. Ella's mother, Mary Sully Bordeaux, was of mixed Irish and Yankton descent; she was the granddaughter of the artist Thomas Sully. Both of Ella's parents had had children by previous marriages. As a young man Philip Deloria had converted to Christianity and renounced his claim to chieftainship; ultimately he became one of the first two Sioux to be ordained priests in the Episcopal Church. In 1890 he was placed in charge of St. Elizabeth's Church and boarding school, at Wakpala, South Dakota, on Standing Rock Reservation.

Ella Deloria was brought up at St. Elizabeth's. Because the community members were primarily Hunkpapa and Blackfoot Tetons (Lakotas), the Deloria family adopted the l dialect of the Tetons in place of the d dialect of the Yanktons. Therefore Deloria, a Yankton, grew up speaking the Lakota dialect of the Sioux language. However, she did speak in the Yankton dialect with her father.

Deloria's primary schooling was at St. Elizabeth's until 1902, when she attended All Saints, an Episcopal boarding school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After winning a college scholarship, she entered Oberlin College in 1910, then transferred in 1913 to Columbia Teachers College, where she earned her bachelor of science degree in 1915. During her senior year at Columbia Teachers she met Franz Boas, professor of anthropology at Columbia University, who hired her for her ability to speak Lakota to work with his students in a course on linguistics. This experience introduced her to the formal study of American Indian languages and cultures, thereby setting in motion the course of much of the rest of her life. ...

... Ella Deloria was a scholar through and through, yet she never let her dedication to scholarship overwhelm her sense of responsibility as a Dakota woman, with family concerns taking precedence over her work. Nor did she ever lose her deep faith in Christianity. She was a warm and gracious individual, whose kindness and personality were inspirational. Her constant goal was to be an interpreter of an American Indian reality to other peoples. Her studies of the Sioux are a monument to her talent and industry.


From http://faculty.webster.edu/woolflm/deloria.html

Ella Deloria's work provides a rich understanding on traditional Dakota and Lakota culture. One source called her an, "insider anthropologist (Hoefel, 2001)." Because she was an insider it also put her in some awkward positions. For one, Deloria knew much about her culture that a young unmarried woman traditionally would not know. As Gardner (2000) points out, "She felt she would lose her standing at home if she published some of what she knew in Waterlily for example. "

At the time of Deloria's work much of traditional Dakota culture was also considered to be devil worship and was outlawed (Gardner, 2000). Deloria included description of some of the ceremonies in her work, but much of it is unpublished or untranslated. Ella Deloria also had to content with much misinformation about her people, much of which continues today.

In doing her work, she faced the problem of not blending in with better-known researchers. Gardner (2000) points out that, "She's not a student and acolyte, she's not a Benedict or a Mead - in other words, they really didn't know how to deal with her." Many texts portray Deloria as simply a secretary when from the letters of Franz Boas it appears he regarded her as a colleague (Gardner, 2000).

Selected works


  • 1993: Ella Deloria's Iron Hawk (single narrative), ed. Julian Rice. University of New Mexico Press; ISBN 0-8263-1447-3
  • 1994: Ella Deloria's the Buffalo People (collection of stories), ed. Julian Rice. University of New Mexico Press; ISBN 0-8263-1506-2
  • 2006: Dakota Texts, Introduction by Raymond J. DeMallie. University of Nebraska Press; ISBN 0-8032-6660-X
  • 2009: Waterlily, New edition. University of Nebraska Press; ISBN 978-0-8032-1904-5


  • 1928: The Wohpe Festival: Being an All-Day Celebration, Consisting of Ceremonials, Games, Dances and Songs, in Honor of Wohpe, One of the Four Superior Gods... Games, of Adornment and of Little Children
  • 1929: The Sun Dance of the Oglala Sioux (American Folklore Society)
  • 1932: Dakota Texts (reprinted 2006, Bison Books; ISBN 0-8032-6660-X)
  • 1941: Dakota Grammar (with Franz Boas) (National Academy of Sciences; reprinted 1976, AMS Press, ISBN 0-404-11829-1)
  • 1944: Speaking of Indians (reprinted 1998, University of Nebraska Press; ISBN 0-8032-6614-6)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ella_Cara_Deloria
  • Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy: Jul 17 2016, 8:03:42 UTC
  • https://www.rikkyo.ac.jp/research/laboratory/IAS/ras/32/deloria.pdf
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Ella Cara Deloria's Timeline

January 30, 1888
South Dakota, United States
February 12, 1971
Age 83
Vermillion, Clay, South Dakota, United States of America
February 12, 1971
Age 83
Lake Andes, Charles Mix County, South Dakota, United States