The Life History of Eugene Delorme, Imprisoned Santee Sioux
"A riveting account of an urban Sioux who has spent much of his life in prison. A skilled storyteller, Delorme gives the reader an illuminating and ralistic glimpse into the mind of a substance abuser and criminal."--A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff
A Santee Sioux born in Marty, South Dakota, Eugene Delorme grew up in the midst of a dissolving family. "I can visualize my dad just always drunk. . .always being on the warpath, drunk, and him and my mother fighting so much, beating her up all the time." His father served two years in the Washington State Penitentiary for stealing beer, then took off for Texas; he didn't see his sons again until they were grown. By then Eugene had already been to prison himself several times for theft and parole violations.
This is Delorme's story, recorded by his friend of many years, Inéz Cardozo-Freeman. They first met in 1978 when Delorme was in the Washington State Penitentiary. Cardozo-Freeman was researching prison culture and soon discovered that Delorme was a savvy inmate, well respected by others and eager to help. They worked together to produce The Joint: Language and Culture in a Maximum Security Prison, published in 1984.
Delorme describes in detail his life in and out of prison, mostly in. He is familiar with the particular problems American Indians have, the education convicts get from other convicts, the place of drugs, the constant intimidations, the negotiations for status and favors, the convict code, and the supreme importance of a reputation.
Delorme earned a reputation as one of "the good people," a leader of other convicts in finding ways not merely to survive a prison sentence but also in using the time to make more of their lives. He knows; he learned the hard way.
Inéz Cardozo-Freeman is an associate professor of comparative studies in the humanities at The Ohio State University, Newark Campus.
218 pp — ©1994