Ella Deloria, the bilingual and bicultural Lakota ethnologist and linguist, wrote hundreds of traditional narratives, autobiographies, anecdotes, and reminiscences in both Lakota and English during the 1920s and 1930s. Iron Hawk represents the culmination of Deloria's colloquial style of synthesizing from memory rather than transcribing from tape or written notes. The story traces the development of a culture hero, from his early education by a grandfather, through a series of instructive adolescent mistakes, to the achievement of marriage and leadership in the tribe. But in refusing to romanticize camp circle life, Deloria also includes Iron Hawk's captivation by a seductive woman, and his return to the work of tribal continuance, when he is rescued by his son. A series of interpretive chapters follow the text to provide suggestions for literary criticism, as well as information on child-rearing and the symbolism of meadowlarks, fire, clothing, and eastward movement.