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Katie Scarlett Brandt
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Chicago-based writer Katie Scarlett Brandt recently completed the biography of world-renowned cancer geneticist Janet Rowley. For her latest project, Katie travels between Chicago and Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to tell the story of Lakota native Delores Takes War Bonnet, interweaving the broader religious and cultural persecutions that the tribe has incurred during Delores’ lifetime. Learn more about the project (as well as Katie’s dogs, favorite bands, and miscellaneous adventures) on Twitter and Instagram: @katiehappens.

Entries by Katie Scarlett Brandt

Native Americans and Supporters Fight Keystone XL Pipeline With Spirit Camp

(3) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 5:05 PM

If you head south on route 183 in central South Dakota, you'll see sprawling farmland all around you. Bald eagles, some as tall as children, will stand guard at the side of the road and swoop low over your car.


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Moving Pictures: Native American Filmmakers Keep Storytelling Alive

(4) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 4:03 PM


Willi White wants badly to speak for himself. Like many people on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, he's tired of outsiders coming in to tell his people's stories.

"It's always through the same lens -- about people who are riddled with...

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Five Things I've Learned From a Pioneering Cancer Geneticist

(0) Comments | Posted January 8, 2014 | 4:07 PM

Janet Davison Rowley was a world-renowned human geneticist at the University of Chicago. The first to discover a link between cancer and genetics, she received many top prizes, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, and the Japan Prize. While working part time and raising four...

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The Town That Lost Its Name

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 4:10 PM


There is a town name that exists only in the minds of the people who live there. It's not on any road atlases, and won't show up in any map searches. Yet.

On current maps, the town is called Kyle --...

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Through a Child's Eyes: Images From Pine Ridge Reservation

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2013 | 3:49 PM


There are certain constants in my trips to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Days start with no less than three cups of coffee. KILI Radio, 90.1 FM, plays in the background of most scenes. Paved Bureau of Indian Affairs...

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Where Art and Music Meet

(1) Comments | Posted August 14, 2013 | 7:58 PM

In the first photo I saw of Ray Takes War Bonnett, he was holding a drum and staring into the distance. I had heard many stories about him by this point -- what an amazing spiritual guide and singer he was. But I'd also heard how the drum...

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The Nature Within

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 4:16 PM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

The giant storm clouds in Camille Seaman's photographs stretch outward from her camera lens for 50 miles. In various shades of blue,...

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Scatter Their Own: Bringing Their Art Home

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 12:00 PM

When Scotti Clifford wrote the song "Earth and Sky," he had the band's bass player, Juliana, on his mind. He was also thinking of sun dance, the traditional Indian ceremony that lasts for days and involves specific dances and songs passed down through generations.

"It's about how if the sky...

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Discovering Native Ties Closer to Home: Chicago Blackhawks and Native People

(3) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 3:23 PM


Booming M80s in Chicago announced that the Blackhawks -- named for the Sauk warrior who fought during the Black Hawk War of 1832 -- had won the Stanley Cup last Tuesday. A few days later, 2 million people made their way downtown to...

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Native Names: Finding Your Own Spirit

(2) Comments | Posted June 21, 2013 | 6:09 PM

Snow covered the ground during my first trip to Pine Ridge in April. Six weeks later, though, the temperature had climbed into the 80s, and tiny brown wood ticks added polka dot textures to everything -- tree stumps, the outside of tents, the floor of the sweat lodge.

My friend...

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The Culture Within: The Day I Met Delores Takes War Bonnet

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2013 | 3:26 PM


For the past two months, a photo of a Lakota man has greeted me daily when I open my computer. The man stands alone in a black cowboy hat, holding a drum. Isolated against a line of bare trees, he looks into the...

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