MA 19


1962,, 1901, 1925-2021, undated


24.27 linear feet [26 document cases, 3 oversize boxes]


Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve is an American writer of Children's literature. She studied journalism at South Dakota State University. She was an English language teacher in several public schools and editor at the Brevet Press in Sioux Falls, S.D. This collection is composed of manuscripts of books and articles written by Sneve, as well as research materials and correspondence from both publishers and fans. General items include materials related to Sneve's career such as speaking engagements and awards, as well as biographical material, journals, and hard cover copies of many of her books.

Historical Note

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (s-navy) was born on February 21, 1933 and raised on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. She is enrolled as a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She attended Bureau of Indian Affairs day schools on the reservation and graduated from St. Mary's Episcopal High School for Indian Girls in Springfield, South Dakota in 1950.

Driving Hawk Sneve attended South Dakota State University and graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree. After graduation, Driving Hawk Sneve taught for a year in White, SD, teaching English and music. The next school year she taught for only one semester at Pierre Junior High School in Pierre, SD. From 1956 to 1964, Virginia made the decision to be a full time homemaker and stayed at home to raise her three children. In 1965, Virginia resumed teaching at Flandreau Indian School teaching English, speech and drama. She eventually became a guidance counselor at the Flandreau Indian School. During this time, she also worked to receive her Master in Education degree from South Dakota State University, which she received in 1969.

In 1971, Driving Hawk Sneve made her first attempt at writing a juvenile fiction book. Her first book was titled, "Jimmy Yellow Hawk." She entered the manuscript for this work in a contest held by the Council on Interracial Books and was the 1971 winner. After winning the award, publishing houses began to contact her about publishing "Jimmy Yellow Hawk." She worked out her own contract with Holiday House, which has handled most of her books of juvenile fiction. In 1972, her first book, "Jimmy Yellow Hawk" and her second book "High Elk's Treasure" were published by Holiday House.

In 1973, Driving Hawk Sneve expanded her writings to include non-fiction. In that year, Brevet Press of Sioux Falls, SD published "South Dakota Geographic Names", which she edited, and "The Dakota's Heritage." She has published more non-fiction, including her history of the Episcopal Church in South Dakota.

Among the numerous awards and honors that Sneve has received for her writing are the South Dakota Governor’s Award in the Arts for Distinction in Creative Achievement, the South Dakota Humanities Council Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award, and honorary doctorates from South Dakota State University and Dakota Wesleyan University. The National Education Association awarded her the Author/Illustrator award in 1996. She was the first South Dakotan to be awarded the National Humanities Medal, presented on December 20, 2000 by President Bill Clinton.

Sneve’s numerous appearances include speaking at literary festivals and conferences and a number of International Reading Association events. She also participated in the National Book Festival in 2002 and the Native Writers Series at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in 2005, both held in Washington D.C.

Driving Hawk Sneve has continued to write to the present time. Her impressive portfolio includes adult fiction, non-fiction, short stories, articles, editorials, and book introductions, in addition to her many works for children. Among these works are the 1995 "Completing the Circle", and "The First Americans Series" on native peoples of North America.

Content Notes

This collection is composed of manuscripts of books and articles written by Sneve, as well as research materials and correspondence from both publishers and fans. General items include materials related to Sneve's career such as speaking engagements and awards, as well as biographical material, journals, and hard cover copies of many of her books.

The creative writing series is composed of creative works, both fiction and non-fiction. Each creative work may include clippings, correspondence, manuscripts, printer's galleys, proofs, published books, research, reviews, and scripts. The correspondence consists mainly of letters to and from publishers and letters from school children thanking Sneve for writing her book or for visiting their school. Some of these letters include drawings by the school children. Many of the manuscripts are edited and include comments or notes for improvements by the editor. The research material includes notes, collected material and taped interviews. A published book accompanies many of the titles. A video of "High Elk's Treasure" is also included.

The General series is composed of awards, clippings, correspondence, interviews, journals, miscellaneous items, general research, and speaking engagement material. The correspondence is comprised of letters to and from publishing houses, Senator Larry Pressler, other writers such as Bob Karolevitz and Audrae Visser, and personal correspondence. The miscellaneous items consist of a 1901 class photograph of unidentified people, and some teaching aids. An item of note is an audio reel of an interview that Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve conducted with Harold Shunk, a Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent at several South Dakota reservations. The speaking engagement material consists mainly of correspondence that deals with scheduling details, but a few speeches are also included.

The Other writings series is composed of Driving Hawk Sneve's works that are not considered creative. This material includes articles published in newspapers and magazines, scripts for a South Dakota Public Radio program series, a Christian education resource for the Episcopal Church Center, introductions and reviews for other writer's works, newspaper editorials, studies conducted for the Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau, S.D., and a contribution to "On the Wings of Peace", a compilation of short stories coordinated by Sheila Hamanaka which benefits world peace organizations.

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Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.