As a child, DaShanne was raised being told he had Lakota ancestry, and he began embracing his heritage as a source of strength and direction while still in grade school. Despite an upbringing marked by racism, poverty, abuse, trauma, and neglect, DaShanne flourished academically. He began writing at the age of eleven, was a delegate to Nevada Boys' State in 1995, became an Eagle Scout, and went on to study at Boston University in 1996.
As a student at Boston University, DaShanne faced being thrown out of his dorm for "smudging," the burning of a small amount of sage or sweetgrass that is a traditional part of many Native American spiritual practices. These experiences of institutionalized discrimination and attacks on his religious freedom prompted him to move to South Dakota to be closer to his Lakota culture.
For many years, DaShanne had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the man he was raised to believe was his biological father. In 1998, however, he managed to reconnect with his long-lost father in an attempt to become an enrolled member of his tribe. Shortly after their reunion, however, DaShanne discovered by accident that he was adopted -- and that his family, culture, and spirituality were not his.
This plunged DaShanne into a deep personal crisis, but after much soul-searching he discovered that his family, culture, and who he was had never changed. With this newfound direction, he founded and managed his own company, Indigenous Creations (2001-2003), before changing direction to pursue a career as a scholar and writer. As a graduate student, he also went on to found and direct Religious Freedom with Raptors (2005-2008), a political interest group dedicated to reforming the U.S. eagle feather law in order to protect individual and tribal rights to religious freedom.
DaShanne received his B.S. from the University of South Dakota in biology, a master's from Boston University in psychology, a second master's from Minnesota State University in sociology, and is now completing his doctorate in sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also currently completing the final draft of Recomposition, his second book and memoir.
We're excited to announce the publication of his new book, The Unfinished Dream: A Discussion on Rights, Equality, and Inclusivity.
RECOMPOSITION: A MEMOIRRecomposition is a bittersweet recounting of a life transformed. It tells the story of how a young boy and his mother struggled to survive the exploits of his step-father -- a man who taught the family about unity and responsibility through Kwanzaa, yet turned into a drug-abusing adulterer and stalker. It tells of overcoming discrimination, fighting for religious freedom, and finding love, laughs, and magic in the midst of death and disaster. And it follows the author's experiences with being caught between being Native American and white, only to accidentally discover that his family, culture, and religion weren't his. An unflinching story of survival and change, Recomposition is about learning that what makes us who we are is not what we think.
DaShanne published an article entitled "Rights vs. Identity: Divisions Run Deep Over Hickory Ground" in Indian Country Today.