Manataka American Indian Council 


 

AMERICAN INDIAN

BOOK REVIEWS

MAIC established a Book Review Committee to give our visitors and members informed choices and sources for books, audio tapes and CD's and other learning tools.  By design, not all members of the committee are editors, professional writers and teachers. They come from many walks of life and truly represent the 'common folk' reader. 

 

 

 

Voice of the Hawk Elder

by Edna Gordon, edited by Harvey Arden

 

"This book is dedicated to my People, the Seneca Nation, to our kindred Peoples of the Haudenoshaunee, or Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, to all the Indian Nations of Great Turtle Island, and to  all other Indigenous Peoples around this Mother Earth.  I send it out like an arrow of love from my heart to YOUR hearts!

 

If  other folks want to read it too, why, thatís fine by me. Might be you even learn something! This book is FULL of secrets for those who understand'm! But always remember, the BIGGEST secret is Creation itself!

 

YES, THIS IS MY VOICE. These are my words. My good friend Harvey [Arden] has helped me sort and arrange them, like heís done for lots of good people over the years, even back when he worked at National Geographic. He fixes my spelling and spruces up my grammar here and there, though I tell him, not too much, Harvey! I want folks to know who I am and how I really talk and what Iím really like. Donít make me some saintly old lady come down from Heaven on a moonbeam spoutiní high-flown words.

 

Me, Iím just me, Grandma Edna Gordon, Hawk Clan Elder of the Seneca Nation, Six Nations Iroquois. I just turned 85, and am tryiní my darndest to be a good person. Sometimes I succeed, but donít stay around me when I get mad! Iím a raging hawk.

 

Peopleímselves arenít holy. But what they do can be holy. Living a holy life, thatís what lifeís for. Helping others, fighting injustice, standing up for the Peopleóthose are holy things to do.  But always be sure to remember, it ainít you yourself whoís holy. People are just people. If Godíd wantedím to be holy, heíd have givením wings and setím up on a cloud somewhere playiní a big gold harp.

 

ISBN: 0975443712; ISBN-13: 9780975443712, Paperback.  Publisher: Have You Thought Price: $21.95 

Anasazi of SW Utah

Ray Urbaniak

(Abridged)

 

This book delves into recent discoveries of previously unrecorded Solstice, Equinox, and Cross Quarter Markers both petroglyph and horizon markers in Southwest Utah.  Also included are the first ever general guideline for identifying Solstice and Equinox markers.

 

How often do you look at a calendar or in other ways confirm the date?  Well, the Anasazi's preoccupation with the Sun should come as no surprise! Celestial event recording stone & horizon markers, including petroglyphs & pictographs, have been recognized around the world for a long time.  However, in 1977 when Anna Sofaer discovered an Anasazi "sun dagger" solstice marker at Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, interest in Native American Solstice markers in the United States skyrocketed!

 

When I moved to SW Utah in 2001 I discovered an exciting Summer Solstice Marker which involves 3 different shafts of light.  This could be the most thrilling Solstice Marker yet discovered in the United States.  The Anasazi of SW Utah (known as the Virgin River Anasazi, and more recently as Ancestral Puebloans) have left an exciting trail of bread crumbs which I have been following for the last 5 years.

This portion of my research delves into my discoveries of previously unrecorded Solstice, Equinox & Cross Quarter Markers both Petroglyph Markers and Horizon Markers in SW Utah Also included the first ever general guideline for identifying Solstice & Equinox Markers.  

 

Soft Cover, 80 pages, Full color photographs and illustrations. Published by Ray Urbaniak (2006) 0-9761737-1-9  $12.95 plus $4.25 shipping and handling.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Charles Mann

Knopf Publishing Group

Softcover, 480pp  $26.95 + s/h

"In the last 20 years, archaeologists and anthropologists equipped with new scientific techniques have made far-reaching discoveries about the Americas. For example, Indians did not cross the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago, as most of us learned in school. They were already here. Their numbers were vast, not few. And instead of living lightly on the land, they managed it beautifully and left behind an enormous ecological legacy. In this riveting, accessible work of science, Charles Mann takes us on an journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact. Compelling and eye-opening, this work will vastly alter our understanding of our history and lands."  By Peter Johnson.

Prison Writings - My Life Is My Sundance

Leonard Peltier

Edited by Harvey Arden

Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse

St. Martinís Press, New York, 1999, Hardback Ė 243 pages   $21.95 + s/h

 

Prison Writings is an amazing book. Tears dropped on page after riveting page of this tragic story. The book is an emotional roller coaster carving a deep and lasting impression in the mind, heart and soul.  Peltier's life-wise words provide many good lessons and will become a classic in the annals of social-injustice.   Well worth its price many times over.

Review by Lee Standing Bear Moore

Other Reviews 

"This book takes the reader on an emotional and spiritual journey as Leonard Peltier's surprisingly hopeful reflections make the terrible injustice of his imprisonment for twenty-four years even more difficult to accept." 

Wilma Mankiller, Former chief of the Cherokee Nation and author of Mankiller

 

"A deeply moving and very disturbing story of a gross miscarriage of justice and an eloquent cri de couer of Native Americans for redress and to be regarded as human beings with inalienable rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution, like any other citizens.  We pray that is does not fall on deaf hears.  America owes it to herself."  

Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa and Nobel Peace Laureate

Dancing with God: Americans who have been Touched by the Divine

Steve Wall 

St. Martin's Press, New York, 1998

Hard Cover, 240 pages,  $28.95 + s/h

 

Dancing with God provides an emotionally wrenching account of modern-day encounters with the transcendent. Written in the voices of a dozen extraordinary people who have had direct contact with a spiritual other-be it voices from the dead, near-death experiences, or encounters with the devil- this book, in the tradition of Conversations with God, is an immensely powerful text, brimming with the stories of awakenings and messianic visions, for understanding the spiritual condition of our nation.

Steve Wall, his camera and van in tow, has traveled across the country-and particularly through the South-in search of a God that may lie buried at the bottom of a trout-fishing river. While he has already published some of his findings, his three previous books all focused on Native American beliefs and wisdom.

Dancing with God builds on his previous vision, but in strikingly new venues, and searches for the meaning of God in hamlets and rural towns spread out across the nation, offering a varied and representative chorus of American voices. The story that emerges from this chorus is ultimately one of great hope. In his travels through America's great hidden subcultures, Steve Wall has discovered a religion and charismatic faith born of unimaginable experiences that defy mere mortal logic. This extraordinary account of his interviews and encounters is uniquely successful in translating the wordlessness of transcendent experience into a moving account easily grasped and identified with by even the most unbelieving reader.

An accomplished photographer, Wall complements his stories with dozens of engaging photographs that capture the essence of the people and towns he visits. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes hauntingly simple, the images are all poignant portraits of the realities he has encountered in his travels.

At the roof of his stories and photographs is a refusal to concede to a commonly held belief that divine inspiration is an archaic myth that has been rendered obsolete in a spiritually shallow modernity. Combining the force of Wall's writing with the magnificence of his photographs, Dancing with God is a journey that no reader will soon forget.

People of the Wolf  

Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

TOR, New York, 1990. 

Soft cover, illustrations and maps- 435 pages 

$14.95 + s/h 

The authors are a rare combination of highly respected anthropologist and riveting storyteller.  This book is the first in a series and its time span ranges from the first people in North America to the Mississippian mound builders.  The book is filled with rich textures of the everyday fabric of pre-history American Indian life.  

 

People of the Wolf was rigorously researched, documented and reviewed by experts in the related fields.  The writers weave the details of traditional stories, beliefs, rituals, clothing, tools, and foods to form a fascinating context for the human experiences of the characters.  A very plausible description of the origin of the sweat lodge is one of the details I found fascinating.

 

Drama, suspense, thrills, action, romance and political intrigue await you. In the first story, Wolf Dreamer struggles to lead his people from a land where the game is rapidly disappearing to a land of plenty on the other side of the massive glacier then covering much of the continent.  Along the way, he and his brother Raven Hunter fight over Dancing Fox and contend for leadership of their people.  Watch for the surprise twist at the end." 

Review by Colonel John 'Mountain Wind' Outler

Encyclopedia of Native American Healing

William S. Lyon 

W. W. Norton, New York and London, 1996.  

Soft cover, (373 pages)   $23.95 + s/h

 

Easy to read with many illustrations both of healers and of artifacts.  Locations of tribal areas are shown in a series of maps.  The book is rich first hand accounts of spiritual healing intertwined with a wealth of herbal medicines, ceremonial objects and sacred songs depicted in real-life tribal settings makes this book extremely interesting.   The accounts of healing practices, told by various investigators give insight into the power of the Great Mystery.  The contrast between the European medical practice with its emphasis on the physical, and the American Indian healing practices which are spiritual and physical leaves one with a greater appreciation for our heritage and what has been largely lost to wider humanity, and what needs urgently to be restored. William S. Lyon is a professor of anthropology at the Center for Religious Studies at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the author of Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of a Lakota.  Review by Colonel John 'Mountain Wind' Outler

 

Other Reviews

This monumental volume explores, explains, and honors the shamanic healing practices of Native Americans throughout North America.  From the Southwestern United States to the Arctic Circle.

Healing traditions in Native American cultures offer a glimpse into a rich and varied world of belief systems and spiritual practices. Covering over 350 years of history. More than 1200 entries in this book introduce readers to renowned Native American healers and to the societies and divisions into which healers were categorized. It describes sacred objects used in healing rituals and how such objects were used, as well as plants used to increase healing powers. Types of healing ceremonies are vividly pictured, and the symbolic motifs used in healing rituals are explained along with the major concepts that formed the many diverse Native American healing traditions. Major scholars of native American healing are introduced, complete with firsthand accounts of their experiences. Entries include:

Helika, the form of supernatural power used by Kwakiutl Shamans for curing. Naitulgai, the Wailaki dream doctors who cured by singing healing songs shown to them in dreams. Aenichit, a powerful Clayoquot Shaman who healed the sick and was known to lift liquid water out of a bucket as though it were frozen.

Designed as an easy to use, comprehensive synthesis of centuries of study, with maps, a detailed subject index, an extensive bibliography, and cross-references, this book will fascinate anyone interested in Native American culture and heritage."

http://www.desertusa.com/web_cart/db/pages/6017.html

 

Shadowcatchers: Search of the Teachings of Native American Healers

Steve Wall 

HarperPerennial, New York, 1994

Soft Cover, 268 pages,  $19.95 + s/h  

 

This book is a quest for the knowledge of healers, women tribal leaders, wise men and sorcerers and spiritual leaders from thirteen American Indian tribes.   Wall's own photographs bring to life the interesting and sometimes stunning accounts of indigenous spirituality.  

 

Shadowcatchers provides many insights into the everyday life of modern Indian healers and glimpses at the frailty and strengths of indigenous life today.  The reader is given a rare opportunity to learn how the spiritual leaders view life, man's destiny and the Creator.  

 

Walls' easy style of writing and respectful treatment of the subject makes this book very enjoyable reading.

                                                                     Review by Lee Standing Bear Moore

 

Travels In a Stone Canoe

Harvey Arden & Steve Wall

Simon & Schuster, New York, 1998

Hard Cover, 304 pages    $19.95 + s/h

 

"In this luminous story, two journalists from National Geographic on assignment in Indian Country cross an invisible boundary between two worlds, two different visions of  reality - and find their lives transformed.  In a stunning and probing narrative - part adventure tale, part reflection and epiphany - the authors of Wisdomkeepers embark on a dramatic "spiritual journey into the living wisdom of Native American spiritual leaders. 

 

When, nearly twenty years ago, a darkly enigmatic Cherokee herbalist approached Harvey Arden and Steve Wall with the proposition that they join him in a study of the lives, wisdom and spiritual practices of Native America's fast-disappearing "Old Ones," the veteran writer and photographer found themselves thrust, despite their own hard-nosed skepticism, onto a mystic "path of the Wisdomkeepers."

 

After receiving "signs" foretold by the Cherokee, they set off on a journey of spiritual discovery through another world, call Great Turtle Island, where the Old Ones - the Wisdomkeepers of aboriginal culture in North America - bestowed them piece by surprising piece a set of "rules for being human" called "Original Instructions."

 

Arden and Wall eventually left the Geographic careers and journalism altogether, and in 1990 produced an interim report on their spirit journey, their now-classic international bestseller Wisdomkeepers: Meeting with Native American Spiritual Elders.  In that book they recalled, "We went out two journalists after a good story.  We came back two 'runners' from another world, carrying an urgent message from the Wisdomkeepers.  This book is that message."

 

Now, in Travels in a Stone Canoe, that message is further deepened and elaborated as the authors reveal the intensely personal story behind - and beyond - their journey to the Wisdomkeepers.  A final, incandescent chapter, "Original Instructions," sums up the transformation and highly practical wisdom they found."   Review by John Nahoma

 

Other Reviews

"Travels in a Stone Canoe is even better than Wisdomkeepers.  Harvey Arden and Steve Wall capture and interpret the true Native American philosophy of life - a life that is real, a life that we have lived for thousands of years.  Travels in a Stone Canoe is a gift to future generations.  I strongly recommend it."

- Leonard Peltier

 

"I had enjoyed Arden and Wall's Wisdomkeepers, so something else by these two, I thought, would be just as good.  Travels in a Stone Canoe, however, exceeds my expectations.  It's not just another book by whites about 'the poor' Indians.  It's almost a reversal work - as if it were the story of two whites by Indians!  Their trip took me along with them.  I wished I were on the Stone Canoe myself." - Dennis Banks

 

White Buffalo Teachings

Chief Arvol Lookinghorse

Dreamkeepers Press, Williamsburg, MA 2001

Soft Cover, 45 pages, $21.95 + s/h

 

Lookinghorse, also called Horse Man, is the 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Great Sioux Nations.  Chief Lookinghorse imparts words of wisdom on a variety of topics including sacred sites, spirituality, prophesy and Lakota teachings in this small (45 pages) and inexpensive book compiled and arranged by Harvey Arden and Paula Horn, Black Hills Woman.

 

Lookinghorse details his vision of global peace and ways to achieve it.  He begs for respect from Indian people and non-Indians for the ancient  ceremonies and sacred sites found throughout the continent and the world.  He provides a glimpse at the Seven Sacred Rites and tells the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman.  He also explains his support of the World Peace and Prayer Day ceremonies conducted in various locations around the world.  

 

The importance and truth of his words cannot be denied.  It is an honor to read this book and add it to our library.  Review by John Nahoma

Noble Red Man

Harvey Arden

Dreamkeepers Press, Williamsburg, MA 2001

Soft Cover, 108 pages, $18.95 + s/h

 

Arden is an excellent writer and presents the great words native American spiritual leader Mathew King in a logical way to bring about better understanding of King's touching and powerful message.  Arden is the co-author of the classic work, Wisdomkeepers.

 

The Noble Red Man is not really a biography of Mathew King's remarkable life, but tells the deeply moving story of one man's faith and determination in dealing with a new challenges in Indian Country in traditional ways.  

 

The Noble Red Man is about balancing traditional ways with the pressures of modern society.  It is a book about finding inner strength and peace during times of great turmoil.  

 

I enjoyed reading this book immensely.  Unique insights into the mind and heart of a traditional spiritual leader is a gift.  King's recounting of major events in American Indian history that occurred in the not-so-distant past, but far from my reality at the time, was especially gratifying.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American Indian spirit-filled political movements.

Review by Pam White Dove 

 

Other Reviews

"A gem of Native American wisdom in the modern idiom. Mathew King counseled a generation of Native American activists during the "Great Indian Awakening" of recent years. King's powerful words form a poignant Native American spiritual testament."

 

Brand new CD:

 

Noble Red Man

 The Transformative Words of  Lakota Wisdomkeeper Mathew King

Only $15.95 plus shipping/handling 

 

A one-of-a-kind spoken-word performance by Harvey Arden with haunting music by Jeff Foremanó

 

"Amazing CD--will rend your heart and transform your mind."

  

*When we want wisdom we go up on the hill And we talk to God, Wakan Tanka.  Four days and four nights.  No food.No water. ~ 

 

Yes, you canó

You can talk to God up on a hill

all by yourself.

You can say anything you want.

Nobodyís there to listen to you.

Just you and God and nobody else

 

Itís a great feeling to be talking to God.

I know. I did it way up on the mountain.

The wind was blowing.

It was dark.

It was cold.

And I stood there

And I talked to God.

 

óMathew King, Chief NOBLE RED MAN

 

god is red cover

God is Red

Vine Deloria, Jr.  

Fulcrum Publishing, Golden Colorado, 2nd edition, 1994  Soft Cover, 320 pages, $19.95

 

Deloria's powerful and masterful words instruct us that religious life is not dependent on institutional religions but the interconnectedness of all things in the cosmos.   

 

God is Red is a classic work on American Indian religion and spirituality. If read this book, you may find, as I did, that the initial chapters, while interesting, leave you a bit disoriented.  Deloria spends the initial three chapters reviewing the white man's mistreatment of the indigenous population.  He jumps from incident to incident, recounting treaty violations, massacre, kidnapping of children, brutality and murder, but does not develop his points. 

 

He displayed keen insight in particular passages, but these fascinating insights were not really developed in any satisfying way.  Here is an example:  

 

"...It was at this point that Indians became popular and the widespread and intense interest in Indians, as seen in the fantasy literature and anthologies, seemed to indicate that Americans wanted more from Indians than they did from other minority groups.  For ... many people the stoic, heroic, and noble Indian who had lived an idyllic existence prior to the contact with whites seemed to hold the key to survival and promised to provide new meanings for American life... "Although Americans who held this view were fooling themselves, they new what they wanted." 

 

The rest of the book is an engaging, often witty, and always fascinating treatise on the failure of Christianity, and the nature of American Indian Tribal religion.  The 2nd edition of this popular book brings a new perspective and additional material from the original, written in the early '70s.  

 

For example, chapter 4, entitled Time and Space, on page 66 brings us this insight, "Monotheism, as Nathan Soderblum has pointed out, is usually the product of the political unification of a diverse society more often that it is the result of a revelation of ultimate reality."  "... The recounting of the event becomes its major value and both metaphysics and ethics are believed to be contained in the description of the event."

 

But this from pages 66-67 was more illuminating for me; "The structures of their (Indian) religious traditions are taken directly from the world around them, from their relationships with other forms of life. Context is (unlike mainstream religion) therefore all-important for both practice and understanding of reality."

 

And if that doesn't rock your world, here is a quote from chapter 8, describing tribal religions, "This sentiment is considerably greater than a simple allegiance to abstract religious principles, even to principles that purport to give instructions in cosmic salvation.  It speaks of an identity so strong as to be virtually indistinguishable from the earth itself, the human being, as it were, completely in harmony with the mother earth and inseparable in every way.  Nowhere else on this planet do we find this attitude..."

 

And from Chapter 9, "Religion for them (Indians) is an experience and they have no reason to reduce it to the systematic thought and the elaboration of concepts."

 

Deloria states in comparison the native religions, ''...The doctrines of the world religions, expressed in the most precise phrases and elaborate concepts with every nuance of meaning represented by weighty tomes, describe virtually nothing, and do not inspire anyone to do much of anything." 

 

"...What counted was the next life, not this one.  While this thought was comforting to people caught in the lower reaches of the religious, social, economic, and political pyramids, these religions, appear to be simply control measures for manipulating large populations and not a realistic appraisal of cosmic reality."

 

One final quote from page 213, which, for me, sums up the impact of the land grab by the whites, and what they still do not understand, or want to, "The question that emerges is whether land is a 'thing' to be used to generate income or a homeland on which people are supposed to live in a sacred manner."        

Review by Colonel John 'Mountain Wind' Outler

To Become a Human Being: The Message of Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah

Steve Wall 

Dreamkeepers Press, Williamsburg, MA, 2001

Soft Cover,  93 pages, $19.95

 

I read this book three times.  It was so absorbing, thought-provoking and gripping it was hard to put down.  This feast of written words transcribed from taped conversations with the late Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah was a spiritual journey.   Shenandoah's words are so simple, yet deeply profound.  

Review by Rebecca A. Moore

Other Reviews:

"Our ancestors lived in physical and spiritual communion with Mother Earth. The Native American way of life has kept its people close to their living roots. "To become a human being"--to rise to an expanded level of consciousness by living on the Earth as it was intended for us to live-captures the essence of Native American wisdom, in the words of Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah, high chief among the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy and revered spiritual leader."

"Using tapes of conversations made over a thirteen-year period, author Steve Wall recreates Chief Shenandoah's message in a unique free-flowing voice. What's more, Wall enhances the message with the dramatic photographs that have made each of his creations, including the best selling Wisdomkeepers, not just books, but treasures."

 

"The dramatic and moving story behind -- and beyond -- the authors' decades-long journey on the path of the Wisdomkeepers.  Part adventure tale, part reflection and epiphany, Travels in a Stone Canoe takes us on a real-yet-mystical 'spirit-journey' into the life-transforming wisdom of Native American spirituality. "Wisdom," the authors learn, "is not something you believe. It's something you do."  A final incandescent chapter, 'Original Instructions for being Human,' sums up the transforming and highly practical wisdom they found." 

 

Book Reviews

I highly recommend this book to anyone searching for spiritual enlightenment. The stories are very poignant and timely and you can almost hear the voice of the author. I was taken on a journey that was so very simple in its complexity - respect the earth and Creator and you will find balance. Awesome!  ~Jamie-Elizabeth Cook-Tate

 

George Walking Bear's style of writing lends itself to being understood by anyone. You can just imagine yourself sitting on the side witnessing his stories. You get to reading and sometime you just can't put the book down. Each story leaves you wanting more. ~P.A. Goins ďSkylarkĒ

 

It teaches about life as a whole and the in-depth meaning of what karma is. There are hidden messages for those captured by the phenomenal wisdom and capable of opening their hearts to the highest values of the souls. This is a rare and valuable source of information that's recommended to the individuals who are guided to spiritual matters by their hearts. ~Red Thunder

 

Talking Bearís Talking Circles ó Book One is full of wonderful insights and depth, yet it was lighthearted and easy to read.  We found George Walking Bear's writing style even and straight-forward.  His use of familiar metaphors, similes and colorful descriptions brought the reader close to the heart of George Walking Bear.  The book was well worth the time.  ~Manataka Book Review Committee

George Walking Bear's - Talking Circles - Book One - Review

 

New Book Reviews:

Osage Indian Customs and Myths 

Scalping: Fact & Fantasy

 

BOOK REVIEWS

After purchasing any of these books, write your own review and email it to us.  We want to know what you think about our selections!   Email us now.

 

 


 

 


 

 

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