Although written sometime in the early 1940's by Ella Cara Deloria, American author and anthropologist, Waterlily is a novel not published until 1988, eighteen years after her death. It is available in a condensed form from Deloria's original draft.
Waterlily represents Deloria's roots as both an author/anthropologist, centering around Dakota women's culture before Western expansionism fractured it. A mother and a daughter, representatives of two Sioux generations, are the central characters, who learn life lessons through hardship and toiling. Important themes that run throughout are the significance of family, kinship, relationships with other members of the tribe, and the role of a woman in the family unit.
The book was well-received by critics, who praised Deloria's comprehensive research into Sioux culture, bringing the reader seamlessly into native life by weaving in plenty of details. Waterlily is the culmination of Deloria's life research. It was issued a new edition in 2009.