The Author Stories Podcast Episode 590 | Phyllis Cole-Dai Interview

Today’s author interview guest is Phyllis Cole-Dai, author of the book Beneath the Same Stars: A Novel of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War

“Perhaps every woman will lie for the man she lies with.”Sarah Wakefield

August 18, 1862. On the Sioux reservation in southwestern Minnesota, Indians desperate for food and freedom rise up against whites in the region. Sarah Wakefield, the wife of a physician, is taken captive with her two babies. Their fate falls into the hands of the warrior Ćaske, with whom she has slim acquaintance. As war rages, little does she know how entwined their lives will become.

Beneath the Same Stars is the gripping story of two people, caught between worlds, who are willing to do almost anything to defend those they care about—including each other. But the drama is bigger than themselves. Tragic forces have been set in motion.…

Inspired by actual events surrounding the U.S.-Dakota War.

Will Sarah and Ćaske survive?
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Advance Praise for Beneath the Same Stars

“I come from a family descended from Gabriel Renville (Ti Wakaŋ, Sacred Lodge), a Sisituŋwaŋ headman who helped to resolve the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. But among my people that conflict never ended. It still divides us today. We were once a strong, spiritual people. We need reminders of who we really are and where we come from. Beneath the Same Stars helps us reexamine our own history and identity. Will that create some positive change among us? I hope so, for the sake of our children, most of all.”—Darlene Renville Pipeboy, independent Dakota scholar and elder

“This is a sensitive portrait of a complicated woman caught in the politically and culturally fraught conflict that led to the U.S.-Dakota War. It both reflects the prejudices and divisiveness of that time and offers bridges to help heal the rifts between and within the communities that continue to be affected by the events of 1862 and their aftermath. The novel turns historical figures into living, breathing embodiments of the conflict, making tangible both the historical events and the contemporary impact of those events on all the affected communities. It raises questions and concerns of substance rather than trying to resolve them and is a constructive contribution to the dialogue we continue to need.”—Carol Chomsky, Professor, University of Minnesota Law School, and author of “The United States-Dakota War Trials: A Study in Military Injustice”

“Beneath the Same Stars weaves feeling and concern into the tragic landscape of the U.S.-Dakota Conflict. Readers are taken on a journey beyond history-book headlines and into the world of a woman who, despite confusion and weakness, dares to care. The story has echoes for today—it invites us all to acknowledge and appreciate cultural differences despite the ever-present social anxiety directing us not to.”—Jim Green, former director, Institute for Dakota Studies, Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal College; co-director, Center for Indigenous Teaching, Sinte Gleska University

“This novel, whose title beautifully expresses the ongoing relevance of the so-called “past,” should be widely read and discussed in schools and communities. Through impressive research and powerful storytelling, Cole-Dai contextualizes one of this country’s most tragic histories exceptionally well. Beneath the Same Stars is a significant contribution to the literature of cross-cultural understanding.”—Charles L. Woodard, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, South Dakota State University, and author of Ancestral Voice: Conversations with N. Scott Momaday

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited nine books in multiple genres. Visit to get your free sampler of her work.

Phyllis began writing stories, essays, poems and songs while in grade school and never stopped. A profound desire to help create a more peaceable world drives all of her creative work. She believes the arts remind us of what truly matters and open us to what’s possible. She has authored or edited nine books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry, as well as four albums of music. Her most recent book is Beneath the Same Stars, a novel of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (One Sky Press, 2018). Originally from Ohio, she now lives in a cozy 120-year-old house in Brookings, South Dakota, with the two loves of her life: her husband, Jihong, and their teenage son, Nathan.

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