Reading List: Native American

Native American Books

bear-boy-sayings-book-cover-smBear Boy Sayings new, by Hollis Melton. Bear Boy, Hank Lee LaRose, was a Northern Ute. Ute was his first language. He didn’t read or write. He was a Sun Dance chief, a ceremony man, a singer, a great orator, a champion of his people and a gifted artist. He died in 2004 at the age of fifty from complications related to diabetes. He once said “When I die I’m going to be a strong spirit helping my people.” Hollis Melton of Black Thistle Press transcribed the many sayings of Bear Bear, sharing them in this wonderful volume. Says Clyde Hall: “Bear Boy loved us all. As he loved the Naraya, the Sun Dance, and the ways of the Sacred Pipe and all the other traditional things and ways that he loved so dear and held sacred. He was willing to share so much of these things with us. That is his gift, that is his legacy. If we can hold even a tiny bit of what he has taught usin our hearts… and the way we live our lives day to day, we will be a better people, and the world a better place.”

right-to-exist-book-smWe Have The Right To Exist new, by Wub-e-ke-niew. Now back in print by Black Thistle Press. The reviews: “All people are inherently responsible for their actions. Everyone is put here for a purpose. When people take the responsibility that is theirs, and eliminate the many facets of violence which are entrenched in their culture, then we can all address the health of human society and Grandmother Earth in an effective holistic way, and restore harmony and balance” —Wub-e-ke-niew. “This book in its scholarship and its passion is one of the most powerful indictments ever written about the treatment of original indigenous people, both here and abroad. But it is also a call to a new fairness and equity between peoples, one that can restore autonomy to those cultures upon which our continued life on this planet may depend.” —Jean Houston, from the Foreword. “This study of aboriginal indigenous thought should be read, studied, and pondered by anyone who cares about the civilization and culture of the conquerors, and about the possibilities of human existence, thought, and creative experience that have been marginalized and suppressed—not to speak of the terrible fate of the victims themselves. It is a remarkable contribution.” —Noam Chomsky

manitous-bookManitous: The Spiritual World of The Ojibway new, by Basil Johnston. A collection of legends and spiritual teachings that depict the mysterious manitous, mystical beings who are divine and essential forces in the spiritual life of the Ojibway. From the rich oral culture of his own Ojibway Indian heritage, Basil Johnston presents a collection of legends and tales depicting manitous, mystical beings who are divine and essential forces in the spiritual life of his people. In this collection, the first by a Native American scholar, these lively, sometimes earthy stories teach about manitous who lived in human form among the Ojibway in the early days, after Kitchi-Manitou (the Great Mystery) created all things and Muzzu-Kummik-Quae (Mother Earth) revealed the natural order of the world. With depth and humour, Johnston tells how lasting tradition was brought to the Ojibway by four half-human brothers, including Nana’b’oozoo, the beloved archetypal being who means well but often blunders. He also relates how people are helped and hindered by other entities, such as the manitous of the forests and meadows, personal manitous and totems, mermen and merwomen, Pauguk (the cursed Flying Skeleton), and the Weendigoes, famed and terrifying giant cannibals. 

The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, Recorded & Edited by Joseph Epes Brown. Joseph Epes Brown was fortunate in meeting men who possessed great human and spiritual qualities, especially Black Elk who had a unique quality of power, kindliness and sense of mission. Born in 1862, Black Elk grew up when his people had the freedom of the plains, hunted bison; he fought at Little Bighorn and at Wounded Knee Creek and knew Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, and American Horse. He traveled with Buffalo Bill to Italy, France and England. During his youth Black Elk was instructed in the sacred love of his people by Whirlwind Chaser, Black Road and Elk Head from whom he learned the history and deep meanings of his people’s spiritual heritage. Through prayer, fasting and deep understanding of his heritage, Black Elk became a wise man, receiving visions and acquiring special powers to be used for the good of his nation. Because of his sense of mission Black Elk wanted this book to be written so that the reader could gain a better understanding of the truths of the Indian traditions. 

I Send a Voice, by Evelyn Eaton. Evelyn writes as a long-time sister/friend, who opens her life and heart to you in a way that makes you feel she is sitting beside you in the desert. Her words cause you to feel every step of her journey as your own. Don’t even consider asking your elder for the honor of becoming a pipekeeper without understanding the sacredness of this responsiblity. I understand that Evelyn is no longer walking this mortal path, but I am sure wherever she is the adventure is one of Honor. A respectful, and authentic picture of the Native American through the eyes of a woman.

Becoming Brave: The Path to Native American Manhood, by Laine Thom. Compiled by our very own Laine Thom, vivid photographs and detailed descriptions of weapons, clothing, and hunting tools reveal the central events and myths around which Native American men shaped their lives. These important objects recount the intertribal warfare, adolescent rites of passage, hunting and equestrian prowess, and survival skills of Native Americans in the American West. In addition to an introduction, bibliography, and index, the book recounts a war party legend, two stories involving the famous battles at Wounded Knee and Little Bighorn, and an excerpt from Black Elk Speaks. A haunting evocation of the warrior spirit, Becoming Brave will captivate and inform anyone with an interest in anthropology, early American history, or indigenous culture.

Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality, by Judie Bopp, Michael Bopp, et al. The Sacred Tree was created by the Four Worlds Development Project, a native American inter-tribal group, as a handbook of Native Spirituality for indigenous peoples all over the Americas and the world. Through the guidance of the tribal elders, native values and traditions are being taught as the primary key to unlocking the force that will move native peoples on the path of their own development. The elders have prophesied that by returning to traditional values, native societies can be transformed. This transformation would then have a healing effect on our entire planet. Highly recommended for all dancers!

Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions, by John Lame Deer and Richard Erdoes. This is a wonderful book on several levels. First, it contains the life story of Lame Deer, a Lakota man born in South Dakota in 1903 at the absolute nadir of Lakota history. It tells how he grew up, surviving relentless hostility by local whites, went through many ways of life, had numerous escapades, and finally turned towards the traditional wisdom of his people, becoming a wise elder, knowledgeable in many aspects of life. He has that wry Indian humor, so different a personality to what was always presented by Hollywood. Nobody can read this book and not be impressed by this man. The second level of this book is that it presents Lakota culture from the point of view of a Lakota steeped in it over many decades, not the interpretation of it by an outside scholar.

Principles of Native American Spirituality, by Dennis Renault. Native American Spirituality teaches us the value of living in harmony with the earth, of honoring each other and respecting the interdependence of all life. By looking back and rediscovering the “old ways” we can look forward to applying these truths to our modern dilemmas. This introductory guide explains: the vision quest, what is a sweat lodge, what is Great Mystery, how to purify with herbs, how to recconect with nature, etc.

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, by John G. Neihardt, et al. Black Elk Speaks is the story of the Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during the momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century. Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and chose Neihardt to tell his story. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind. When Black Elk received his great vision, white settlers were invading the Lakotas’ homeland, decimating buffalo herds, and threatening to extinguish the Lakotas’ way of life. As related by Neihardt, Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and the earth have made this book a venerated spiritual classic.

Reginald and Gladys Laubin, American Indian Dancers, by Starr West Jones. Friends and cultural historians of many Indian families among the Sioux and Crow Reginald and Gladys Laubin devoted their lives to preserving a vanishing era by presenting authentic Indian dances, costumes and song. Applauded by audiences across the US and Europe, Israel, and Africa, the Laubins were also praised by Indians of many tribes as worthy enveoys of their cultures. Clyde Hall was close friends with both Reginald and Gladys. This book tells the full story of Chief One Bull.

The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use, by Reginald & Gladys Laubin. Besides providing all necessary details on the materials, construction, setting up, and maintenance of a tipi, this book also provides comparisons with alternate designs and why one might be better than another, and gives advice on varying the size to fit your needs. It provides all the essentials, including adjustments for various seasons and types of weather (rain, snow, and wind), layout of living and sleeping space, furniture, storage of supplies, fire building, cooking, recipes, brain tanning, making parfleche containers, and moccasins. Plus it includes a few words about a native ceremony to properly dedicate the new lodge, and describes tipi etiquette for hosts and visitors. Lots of photos, drawings and detailed diagrams are provided.

Sacred Sage: How It Heals, by Silver Wolf Walks Alone. This is the encyclopedia of sage. It explains that there are different kinds of sage for different spiritual and healing purposes. The smuding ceremony has been a sacred ritual for natives for thousands of years. It is a ritual of cleansing and purification for the physical and spiritual bodies. Smudging is used to cleanse energy fields. Each person, animal, rock, plant, home, has an auric field that can capture negative energy, and needs cleansing. A wonder primer.

Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men, by Win Blevins. For over thirty years, from the time of Lewis and Clark into the 1840s, the mountain men explored the Great American West. As trappers in a hostile, trackless land, their exploits opened the gates of the mountains for the wagon trains of pioneers who followed them. In Give Your Heart to the Hawks, Win Blevins presents a poetic tribute to these dauntless “first Westerners” and their incredible adventures. Here, among many, are the stories of: John Colter, who, in 1808, naked and without weapons or food, escaped captivity by the Blackfeet and ran and walked 250 miles to Fort Lisa at the mouth of the Yellowstone River; Hugh Glass, who was mauled by a grizzly in 1823, left for dead by his trapper companions, and crawled 300 miles to Fort Kiowa on the Missouri; Kit Carson, who ran away from home at age 17, became a legendary mountain man in his 20s and served as scout and guide for John C. Fremont’s westward explorations of the 1840s; Jedediah Smith, a tall, gaunt, Bible-reading New Yorker whose trapping expeditions ranged from the Rockies to California and who was killed by Comanches on the Cimarron in 1831.

The Way It Is: One Water, One Air, One Mother Earth, by Corbin Harney. As a Native American medicine person, Corbin listened to his own medicine people describe prophecies that were shocking and unbelievable to him as a child. Today he sees these ancient prophecies coming true, one after another. Corbin Harney shares the native view of life and the importance of living in balance with nature. He is asking for “the human” to awaken to the emergency the Earth is in today. Nuclear testing and the transportation of radioactive waste on our highways and railroads is life-threatening to all of us because truck and rail accidents are inevitable. What can we do? “We all have a voice. By working together, as one people, we may still save our Mother Earth.” Corbin Harney stands as no one else does at the moment for that new alliance between indigenous peoples and environmental groups.

The Nature Way, by Corbin Harney and Alex Purbick. The Nature Way is a rich compendium of Corbin Harney’s experience and wisdom. His account of his life incorporates the tragic history of Native Americans in the Great Basin, his realization of his own identity as Native American, and his long study of of his tribes traditions and spiritual practices. His summary of the Shoshone’s people’s use of indigenous plants for food and healing highlights their understanding that the Earth and its denizens must be respected and protected. His account as of his role as an antinuclear activist expands on his awareness of the human responsibility to protect the Earth from extreme danger posed by nuclear energy, especially that of nuclear weapons. His voice is one of the clearest expressions yet of the values, concerns, and spirituality of contemporary Native America. 

book-recreatingRe-creating the Circle: The Renewal of American Indian Self-Determination, by Stephen M. Sachs, Barbara Morris, et al. A collaboration between Native activists, professionals, and scholars, Re-creating the Circle brings a new perspective to the American Indian struggle for self-determination: the returning of Indigenous peoples to sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and harmony so that they may again live well in their own communities, while partnering with their neighbors, the nation, and the world for mutual advancement. Given the complexity in realizing American Indian renewal, this project weaves the perspectives of the individual contributors into a holistic analysis providing a broader understanding of political, economic, educational, social, cultural, and psychological initiatives. The authors seek to assist not only in establishing American Indian nations as full partners in American federalism and society, but also in improving the conditions of Indigenous people world wide, while illuminating the relevance of American Indian tradition for the contemporary world facing an abundance of increasing difficulties.

The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian, by Joseph Epes Brown. It is a fundamental and universal characteristic of Native American cultures that “religion” is not a separate category of activity or experience that is divorced from culture or society. Rather, religion is pervasively present and is in complex interrelationships with all aspects of the peoples’ lives. The chapter topics address selected and interrelated perspectives from cultural anthropology and the history of religions. These topics then demonstrate how Native American spiritual heritages are situated within the context of world religious traditions. All the chapters elaborate on this central concern by means of a wide range of specific examples drawn from selected Native American cultures. 

Two Toms: Lessons from a Shoshone Doctor, by Thomas & Helen Johnson. In 1969, Tom Wesaw was an 83-year-old Shoshone doctor and religious leader on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. He could no longer drive, which posed problems in making house calls. The arrival of young anthropologist Tom Johnson changed that. Johnson would drive Wesaw, and cook, pump water, and build fires for sweat lodges. In exchange, the elder Tom would show the younger Tom his work. The two were together so often that the people of Wind River began to refer to them affectionately by one name: Two Toms. By the light of the lamp Wesaw gave him, Johnson would write down what he learned. The Shoshone doctor wanted his student to share everything he saw and heard. Now, in Two Toms: Lessons from a Shoshone Doctor, he has. 

The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men, by Vine Deloria Jr. This book is a compilation of the accounts of disinterested and often hostile observers of the amazing and often inexplicable workings of Native American medicine men and shamans. Most of the stories are drawn from 19th century books, while some predate that era. Vine Deloria Jr., a wise and intriguing writer whose recent passing is a great loss, categorizes these accounts and discusses their credibility, based on the perspectives of the correspondents, and his own common sense and analytical ability. The stories range from the simple doing of medicine to heal sick and wounded people, whether Native or not, self-healing, protection from attackers, summoning of storms and rain, manifesting the growth of plants before one’s eyes, communicating with spirits through animals and even stones, prophecy and clairvoyance, and general mystical topics including manifestation of the spirits of the dead, and accounts of the afterlife.

Walking In A Sacred MannerWalking in the Sacred Manner: Healers, Dreamers, and Pipe Carriers – Medicine Women of the Plains, new by Mark St. Pierre. Walking in the Sacred Manner is an exploration of the myths and culture of the Plains Indians, for whom the everyday and the spiritual are intertwined and women play a strong and important role in the spiritual and religious life of the community. Based on extensive first-person interviews by an established expert on Plains Indian women, the book is a singular and authentic record of the participation of women in the sacred traditions of Northern Plains tribes, including Lakota, Cheyenne, Crow, and Assiniboine.

book-4-directionsWalking The Four Directions, by Stephen M. Sachs with photographs by Leah M. Ingraham. The deepening world crisis compels people to search for change. There is a great deal in the Native American ways of seeing and thinking that the world needs very much to return to. All traditional Indigenous people consider themselves to be part of nature, in which everything is connected, while each location in time and space is unique. They knew from experience that humans have a responsibility to keep their world in balance. This book honors the ancient principles of relationship of all peoples, as it unfolds an understanding of ancient ways through the author’s experience. The wisdom demonstrated here is important for all of us in these times of great transition, for us and all beings.

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