1973 photo of Ronald Corum (left) and Edgar Red Cloud (right) during a Vision Quest ceremony on Pine Ridge Reservation.
1973 photo of Ronald Corum (left) and Edgar Red Cloud (right) during a Vision Quest ceremony on Pine Ridge Reservation.

The University of Louisville Libraries is sharing with Oglala Lakota College a significant collection of Lakota photos, recorded oral histories and songs.

The collection is from research that Louisville research neurophysiologist  Charles Ronald Corum conducted in South Dakota while he was a UofL master’s and doctoral student. Corum visited the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations from 1973 to 1978 to study Lakota culture as well as approaches to treating chronic pain and diseases such as cancer.

Edgar Red Cloud, great-grandson of the prominent Native American leader Chief Red Cloud, hosted and mentored Corum and introduced him to other tribal elders. Corum was allowed to take photos and record stories and songs, including previously unrecorded farewell songs and prayers of Chief Red Cloud. Edgar Red Cloud later “adopted” Corum in a ceremony giving him the Lakota name Mahpiya Papomi (Rolling Cloud).

Two years ago Corum gave his research, including his Lakota language studies with UofL linguistic scholar David Maurer, to the UofL Libraries. Sarah-Jane Poindexter, archivist of manuscripts and co-director of UofL’s Oral History Center, has since cataloged and digitally reformatted the research so that it’s accessible and searchable. On Aug. 18, she sent digital copies to the Oglala Lakota College’s Woksape Tipi Library and Archives. UofL Archives and Special Collections will retain the original research.

“This is really a digital repatriation,” Poindexter said. “This is the Lakotas’ cultural heritage and therefore they should have access to it. I’m hopeful they can use it for research and language studies.”

Tawa Ducheneaux, archivist at Oglala Lakota College’s library, said sharing the material will be invaluable to the Red Cloud family, the college’s students and faculty, the Pine Ridge community and others interested in Native American studies.

“We are truly excited to see this project come to fruition,” she said.

The C. Ronald Corum Lakota Research Collection is available in the Archives and Special Collections (ASC) in Ekstrom Library on UofL’s Belknap Campus during normal ASC hours.

Niki King
Niki King Jones is positive she has the best job at the University of Louisville, serving the communication needs of the departments of fine arts and theatre, the School of Music, University Libraries and Alumni – all the fun, creative stuff. Before coming to UofL in 2015, Niki held communication positions in both private and nonprofit sectors in Louisville, Ky., including at Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Jewish Community of Louisville. For 10 years prior, she was a reporter at various newspapers across the country, most recently The Courier-Journal. Niki graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in journalism and has a masters degree in community and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.