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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads With an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn (New World Library) Exploring the wisdom and spiritual insight of the Native American experience, the author delves into the world of an old man on a plains reservation, recording his eloquent reflections on the history of his people. This biography is replete with Lakota wisdom, spirituality and earthy humor. In this 1996 Minnesota Book Award winner, Kent Nerburn draws the reader deep into the world of an Indian elder known only as Dan. Its a world of Indian towns, white roadside cafes, and abandoned roads that swirl with the memories of the Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull. Readers meet vivid characters like Jumbo, a 400-pound mechanic, and Annie, an 80-year-old Lakota woman living in a log cabin. Threading through the book is the story of two men struggling to find a common voice. Neither Wolf Nor Dog takes readers to the heart of the Native American experience. As the story unfolds, Dan speaks eloquently on the difference between land and property, the power of silence, and the selling of sacred ceremonies. This edition features a new introduction by the author. "This is a sobering, humbling, cleansing, loving book, one that every American should read." Yoga Journal

Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal by Patty Loew (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, dist. University of Wisconsin Press) From origin stories to contemporary struggles over treaty rights and sovereignty issues, Indian Nations of Wisconsin explores Wisconsin's rich Native tradition. Each chapter is a compact tribal history of one of the state's Indian nations-Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oneida, Menominee, Mohican and Brothertown, and Ho-Chunk-and the book relies on the historical perspectives of Native people. Author Patty Loew focuses on oral tradition-stories, songs, the recorded words of Indian treaty negotiators, and interviews-as well as other untapped Native sources, such as tribal newspapers, to present a distinctly different view of history.

Elders and tribal historians from each of the twelve Native communities represented in the book participated in the book's development-making suggestions, recommending sources, and offering criticism. Indian Nations of Wisconsin is illustrated with more than seventy photographs.


Quest for Harmony: Native American Spiritual Traditions by William A. Young (Seven Bridges Press) Quest for Harmony introduces readers to the spiritual traditions of Native American nations. The work is primarily intended for nonnative audiences interested in learning more about the richness and depth of Native American cultures. At the heart of the book is a series of four chapters on representative Native American nations and their distinct spiritual traditions: Lenape (Delaware), An-Yun-wiya (Cherokee), Lakota (Sioux), and Din (Navajo). Two other sections surround this discussion of the spiritual traditions of particular nations. The author frames this discussion of particular nations with a historical overview of the Native American experience. [Review pending]

Teaching Spirits: Toward an Understanding of Native American Religious Traditions by Joseph Epes Brown, edited by Emily Cousins (Oxford University Press) offers a thematic approach to Native American religious traditions. Through years of living with and learning about Native traditions across the continent, Joseph Epes Brown learned firsthand of the great diversity of the North American Indian cultures. Yet within this great multiplicity, he also noticed certain common themes that resonate within many Native traditions. These themes include a shared sense of time as cyclical rather than linear, a belief that landscapes are inhabited by spirits, a rich oral tradition, visual arts that emphasize the process of creation, a reciprocal relationship with the natural world, and the rituals that tie these themes together. Brown illustrates each of these themes with in-depth explorations of specific native cultures including Lakota, Navajo, Apache, Koyukon, and Ojibwe.

Brown was one of the first scholars to recognize that Native religions-rather than being relics of the past-are vital traditions that tribal members shape and adapt to meet both timeless and contemporary needs. Teaching Spirits reflects this view, using examples from the present as well as the past. For instance, when writing about Plains rituals, he describes not only building an impromptu sweat lodge in a Denver hotel room with Black Elk in the 1940s, but also the struggles of present-day Crow tribal members to balance Sun Dances and vision quests with nine-to-five jobs.

In this groundbreaking work, Brown suggests that Native American traditions demonstrate how all components of a culture can be interconnected-how the presence of the sacred can permeate all lifeways to such a degree that what we call religion is integrated into all of life's activities. Throughout the book, Brown draws on his extensive personal experience with Black Elk, who came to symbolize for many the richness of the imperiled native cultures. This volume brings to life the themes that resonate at the heart of Native American religious traditions. The late Joseph Epes Brown was a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Montana. A renowned author in the fields of Native American Traditions and World Religions, Brown was one of the founders of Native American Studies and was largely responsible for bringing the study of Native American religious traditions into American higher education. His publications include The Sacred Pipe (1953), Animals of the Soul (1992), and The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian (1982).


Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir by Linda Hogan (Norton) The powerful story of one woman's family and the way in which tribal history informs her own past. "I sat down to write a book about pain and ended up writing about love," says award-winning Chickasaw poet and novelist Linda Hogan. In this book, she recounts her own difficult childhood as the daughter of an army sergeant, her love affair at age fifteen with an older man, the legacy of alcoholism, and the troubled history of the two daughters she adopted. She shows how historic and emotional pain are passed down through generations while revealing her own struggles with physical pain, and she blends personal history with stories of important Indian figures of the past such as Lozen, the woman who was the military strategist for Geronimo, and Ohiyesha, the Santee Sioux medical doctor who witnessed the massacre at Wounded Knee. Ultimately, Hogan sees herself and her people whole again and gives us an illuminating story of personal spiritual triumph.

They Call Me Agnes: A Crow Narrative Based on the Life of Agnes Yellowtail Deernose by Fred W. Voget Mary K. Mee (Oklahoma) the narrator, Agnes Deernose, provides a warm, personal view of Crow Indian family life and culture. Fred Voget, anthropologist and adopted Crow, sets the stage for Agnes's story, which he compiled from extensive interviews with Agnes and her friends. He describes the origins of the Crows and their culture during buffalo-hunting days and early reservation life. Through Agnes, an elderly Crow woman, he also reveals changes wrought on this once far-ranging, independent tribe by twentieth-century forces.

 Peyotism and the Native American Church: An Annotated Bibliography by Phillip M. White (Bibliographies and Indexes in American History: Greenwood Press)

The largest religion begun, organized, and directed by and for Native Americans, Peyotism includes the use of peyote in its ceremonies. As a sacred plant of divine origin, peyote use was well established in religious rituals in pre-Columbian Mexico. Toward the end of the 19th century., Peyotism spread to the Indians of Texas and the Southwest, and it spread rapidly in the United States after the subsidence of the Ghost Dance. It persists today among Native Americans in Northern Mexico, the United States, and Southern Canada. Possibly because of the controversy over peyote use, a lot has been written about the Native American Church. This bibliography provides a useful guide because of its useful annotations of each entry, for scholars, students, and Native Americans who want to research Peyotism.


In 1918, adherents of the Peyote Religion in Oklahoma established the Native American Church in an effort to protect their religious beliefs and practices. Soon, other states formed peyote churches. In 1944, the Oklahoma charter church was amended, resulting in a new name, the Native American Church of the United States. In 1955, the national organization changed its name to the Native American Church of North America in order to include Canadian Peyotists. In 1954, Canadian Peyotists, including the Blood, Cree, Ojibwa, and Assiniboine tribal groups, incorporated themselves into the Native American Church of Canada. In 1958, Peyotists incorporated the Native American Church in California and Nevada. In 1966, the Native American Church of Navajoland was formed and remains independent of the Native American Church of North America. The Native American Church is incorporated in 17 states." Although the membership of the Native American church is estimated to be from 250,000 to 400,000, it is still a minority religion even among Native Americans.

There has been a great deal written about the Native American Church, probably because of the controversy over the use of peyote in the ceremonies. The Church also teaches an ethical code, which includes brotherly love, care of family, self-reliance, and the avoidance of alcohol. And, peyote is the sacrament of the Native American Church. Peyote is used as a psychoactive sacrament, or entheogen (becoming god or spirit within). The peyote button is taken to assist in a spiritual or mystical experience. Peyote induces visions and has "medicine power." Scientists generally agree that peyote is not habit-forming, that it is non-soporific, and therefore not technically a "narcotic."' 2 Members of the Native American Church do not report feeling a high, but rather a period of intense inward reflection, and a spiritual feeling.' 3 Peyote is also valued as a medicine by Indian people. It has many curative properties, making the Peyote religion a medico-religious cult. '4 The curative properties of peyote are responsible perhaps more than any other attribute for the rapid diffusion of the Peyote Cult in the United States. Also, in aboriginal views, the belief that malevolent spirits cause illness and death is good reason to utilize the powers of peyote that put the medicine man into communication with those spirits to "cure" individuals. In 1908, Albert Hensley, a Winnebago educated at the Carlisle Indian School, said the Winnebago regarded peyote as both a Holy Medicine and a Christian sacrament. "To us it is a portion of the body of Christ," Hensley said. Christ spoke of a Comforter who was to come. It never came to Indians until it was sent by God in the form of this Holy Medicine The two primary ceremonies in the Native American Church are the Half Moon and the Big Moon. The Half-Moon ceremony derives its name from the shape of the altar used, and is also called the Tipi Way, the Quanah Parker Way, the Comanche Way, or the Kiowa Way. There are variations among these ceremonies from Mexico to the United States, and from tribe to tribe. While both ceremonies incorporate aspects of Indian culture and Christianity, the Big Moon ceremony incorporates more Biblical and Christian influences. The Big Moon and Half-Moon ceremonies include preaching, prophecy, baptism and other similarities. Both emphasize the divine role of peyote and its power to teach and heal. Both oppose the use of liquor and tobacco, generally. The Lakota Indians have a Cross-Fire Ceremony that incorporates Christian elements into the peyote ceremonies. The Christian members of the Native American Church acknowledge a Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Bible is used extensively by the Christian congregations. The Traditional members speak only of God. All believe in brotherly love, often expressed as three principles of respect for all people, compassion for all people, and forgiveness for all people. The Native American Church is organized at the national level, with chapters organized by the Church of one tribe in a single area (usually a state) and congregations within those chapters. The Native American Church has no formal creeds or authoritative literature.

The all-night peyote service, usually called a meeting, normally takes place on Saturday night. These services involve several participants (the Roadman, the Chief Drummer, the Cedarman) and ceremonial objects (a staff, rattle, whistle, drum, feather fan), a large, special button of peyote (the Chief Peyote, or Father Peyote, placed on the altar), and ceremonial elements. 16 Generally, there is the consecration of the drum and other objects in cedar smoke; the distribution of tobacco for ritual smoking; the passing and use of peyote; the singing of an opening song; the circulating of the staff, fan, drum and rattle to each participant (who sings four songs with them before giving them to the next person); and the continuation of singing until midnight. After the Midnight Water Call, the meeting continues with singing, the taking of peyote, prayers, and sometimes a healing ceremony. At sunrise, the Dawn Song is sung by the leader, or Roadman. The Peyote Woman brings in water for a blessing, which is circulated among the worshipers to drink. There may be a ceremonial breakfast, and then a Bible reading or talk by the Roadman. A final Quitting Song is then sung.


Core Collection and General Works
Individual Tribes
Apache Tribe
Arapaho Tribe
Blackfeet Tribe
Caddo Tribe
Cheyenne Tribe
Commanche Tribe
Cree Tribe
Delaware Tribe
Fox Tribe
Goshute Tribe
Hopi Tribe
Hunichol Tribe
Kiowa Indians
Kiowa-Apache Indians
Lakota/Sioux Indians
Menominee Indians
Navajo Indians
Ojibwa Indians
Omaha Indians
Osage Indians
Otoe-Missouria Indians
Paiute Indians
Ponca Indians
Potawatomi Indians
Shoshone Indians
Taos Indians
Tarahumara Indians
Tonkawa Indians
Ute Indians
Washo Indians
Winnebago Indians
Appendix: Internet Sites

1001 Curious Things: Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Native American Art by Kate C. Duncan (University of Washington Press)

For more than one hundred years, tourists and residents alike have flocked to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, located on Seattle's waterfront. Here a mummy nicknamed Sylvester, a collection of shrunken heads from Ecuador, a two-headed calf, and a mermaid preside over walls and cases crammed with an incredible jumble of souvenirs and trinkets, intermixed with authentic Northwest Coast and Alaskan Eskimo carvings, baskets, blankets, and other artworks. The guestbook records visits by Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Jack Dempsey, Charlie Chaplin, J. Edgar Hoover, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, and Queen Marie of Rumania, among many others.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop was founded in 1899 by Joseph E. "Daddy" Standley, an Ohio-born curio collector who came to Seattle in the late 1890s during the Yukon gold rush. Although Native American material vied for space with exotica from all corners of the globe, it soon grew to be the mainstay of the shop, which became identified with the whalebones displayed outside and the "piles of old Eskimo relics" within. Also to be found were baskets, moccasins, ivory carving from Alaska, Tlingit spruce root baskets, Haida "jadeite" totem poles, masks, paddles, and other curiosities from the Northwest Coast. Indians from the Olympic Peninsula brought baskets, coming up to the back door of the shop in their canoes. Others, originally from British Columbia but now living on the flats not far from the shop, carved miniature totem poles by the hundreds and full-size poles on commission. Trading companies supplied Indian curios from the Plains, Southwest, and California.

An art historian trained in the classic arts of the Northwest Coast, Kate Duncan became interested in the history of the shop when she learned that it had not only been an active participant in Seattle's 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition but had also been a major source of important Northwest Coast collections in many museums, including, among others, the Royal Ontario Museum, the George G. Heye Collection (now in the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian), the Washington State Museum, the Newark Museum, the Portland Art Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History. Granted full access by the present owners-grandson and great-grandson of "Daddy" Standley-to the remarkably complete archives maintained from the time the shop opened, Duncan has provided a fascinating chapter in the history of Seattle, especially in its early years, as well as a significant contribution to the literature on tourist arts and collecting.

Art of the North American Indians: The Thaw Collection edited by Gilbert T. Vincent, Sherry Brydon, and Ralph T. Coe a luxurious and inclusive examination of Native North American art. While the collection records began with a personal interest on the part of Eugene and Clare Thaw in Native art featuring the American flag, it grew beyond that theme, as they sought to create it representative collection of masterpieces to be given to the public. The result is an extraordinary assemblage of rare and important examples of North American Indian art. Objects date from 500 BCE to the present day and give an effective and comprehensive overview of the highest artistic levels of Native cultures throughout North America.

The book it includes general introductions to eight cultures areas-Woodlands. Plains, Southwest, California, Great Basin, Northwest Coast, Northern Athapapaskan, and Arctic as well as 34 regional sections. Superb color photographs of 260 objects by John Bigelow accompanied by detailed discussions, and 510 black-white photographs of the remaining objects are interspersed throughout the text. The majority of works are from the historic period, but both ancient and contemporary pieces are also included. As a record of a fine collection this book is more than catalogue it is a visual record of North American Indian material arts culture, that casts too wide a net to be as inclusive as it hopes.

BEYOND THE LODGE OF THE SUN: Inner Mysteries of the Native American Way by Chokecherry Gall Eagle

Element Books

$15.95, paper, 163 pages


There are many books about Native American religion but until now, many underlying teachings were secret and not openly discussed. In this fascinating book, the author shares some of the esoteric aspects of Native American lore as presented by the elders of the tradition. Having been given ‘permission’ to share the teachings in this way - one time and one time only - he unveils his own process of discovering authentic insights into the sacred knowledge.

Whether one is seeking a deeper meaning to life, looking for a more balanced way to live, or primarily interested in exploring Native American traditions, this book will intrigue and enlighten all those who want to understand deeper aspects of native American religious life ways. With many anecdotes and remarkable adventure stories, it steers us away from the common illusions and pitfalls of false shamanism as it unfolds two powerful teachings: Fire teachings — how to live harmoniously amidst Earth’s many creatures, and Stone teachings — elevated insights discovered in the higher reaches of the mystic path.


The wooden stem of the Pipe stands for all growing things. Sometimes an eagle feather is hung where the stem and bowl meet, to symbolize the center and the mystical eagle feather of this knowledge. The bowl is often red soapstone, catlinite, named after a white artist who once painted it at the quarry. Followers of the formalized Black Road sometimes prefer black soapstone, traded from the Canadian Rockies. Today, there is a road that goes right to one place it is found.

Stone represents perceptions, hues of consciousness, medicine dreams. The stone bowl means this, of course. There are countless things that can be attached or carved on a Pipe. Each would symbolize a particular thing, and narrow the field of perception to that one medicine. If your vision decrees it, you might follow that one field of perception toward attainment.

The important parts of Pipe ceremony are gesturing the directions and the symbology of the smoke.

The smoke is said to represent our prayers, lifting upwards toward the ethereal. What the ethereal woman really advised is this:

Make your breath visible. Pray with a visible breath.

The ethereal meaning is this:

When is your breath visible’ It is visible amidst the frosty snows.

It really means that to get answers to your prayers, you should pray with the clear purifying energy which is represented by the frosty snows of the North. This energy is sometimes called Skan (sh-kan) or Take Skan Skan. Skan means something like divine substance in movement, and is sometimes alluded to as the wind. It is something moving, always moving, but only through itself and yet touching all of creation. It is a cleansing energy.

It is like when you have used up a lot of energy and it is very late at night. You shiver and shudder as something almost electric races through your body. This is like Skan.

Sometimes you are intent upon what you are doing. Suddenly, you get startled. Something peculiar might be happening. All the hair on the back of your neck stands up. This is like Skan.

It is an energy. The first times that you feel it, it can seem like a jolt to the mind. It clears all mental activity for a few seconds, and we are not used to that. The first time I traveled to Uncle Mark’s reservation, I was wracked by wave after wave of this energy for three days of driving. It was to prepare me.

Long ago, the ethereal woman said to use this energy. Then our prayers would travel fleetly to the spirit realms.

I believe she meant this energy, and many others have told me they also understand it this way. The whole usage of the Pipe is meant to help us align the parts of self, and if we then use this energy once we are balanced, our prayers will be heard.

Since I was taught fundamental perceptions, I look for the root beneath the symbol. This is what I am telling you about. The entry into the golden-yellow Light is the fundamental perception underlying Sundance. The ceremony of Sundance is the enactment of the mystical event. I heard the rush of air that can be said to be the wings of the ethereal Eagle. I felt pain in my chest as the levels were pierced, which my mind says is the Eagle piercing me. The sensations were very real, and intense How I describe the cause of the sensations is personal. A mystic from the Far East would say something else, because he would perceive a different cause, or hue, of the same experience. To me, it was an ethereal Eagle.


North American Indian Belief and Ritual

by Robert L. Hall

University of Illinois Press

$24.95, paper, notes, bibliography, index



Garrick A. Bailey, author of The Osage and the Invisible World, says that this book is "One of the most exciting works I have ever read on the North American Indians. This is a major contribution to American Indian studies and a beautiful piece of scholarship, the likes of which we rarely see today."

The fruitfulness and the extent of Native American spirituality has long been noted, but it has not until now been examined with such imaginative insight and with such an eye for the amazing interconnectedness of Indian tribal ceremonies and practices. In many ways Hall has inaugurated an advanced deep reading of native American ethnographic record. In this book, Hall traces the genetic and historical relationships of the tribes of the Midwest and Plains—including roots that extend back as far as 3,000 years. His imaginative sympathy has a disciplined command of the data and offers refreshing readings and interpretations of native American spirituality.

Looking beyond regional barriers, AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE SOUL offers vistas of insight into American Indian ethnography. Hall uncovers the lineage and kinship shared by Native North Americans through the perspectives of history, archaeology, archaeoastronomy, biological anthropology, linguistics, and mythology. The wholeness and panoramic complexity of American Indian belief has rarely been so extensively integrated in one work. Highly recommended for any who wish to struggle with the ethnographically authentic traditions of Native North Americans.

ROBERT L. HALL, an anthropologist of Native American ancestry, is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Formerly director of the Institute of Indian Studies at the University of South Dakota and curator of anthropology at two major Midwestern museums, he has published widely on Mesoamerican and North American Indian culture history.


Volume 17: Languages

Volume editor: Ives Goddard

Series editor: William Sturtevant

Smithsonian Institution Press

$103.95, cloth, 957 pages, notes, bibliography, index, photos, maps


This is the tenth volume to be published of a 20-volume set planned to give an encyclopedic summary of what is known about the prehistory, history, and cultures of the aboriginal peoples of North America who lived north of the urban civilizations of central Mexico.

This volume is a basic reference work on the Native languages of the continent (north of Middle America), their characteristics and uses, their historical relationships, and the history of research on these languages. Grammatical sketches provide more details on 12 languages, a representative selection from the several hundred Native languages of North America.

Volumes 5- 15 of the Handbook cover aboriginal cultures and their histories in each of the culture areas of North America (mapped in those volumes). Each of those volumes also includes chapters on the languages of that area, while the chapter describing each culture includes a note on the writing systems employed for the relevant language.

Other volumes in the Handbook are, like this one, continental in scope. Thus volume 2 contains detailed accounts of the different kinds of Native communities in the late twentieth century and describes their relations with one another and with the surrounding non-Indian societies. Volume 3 gives the environmental and biological backgrounds within which the Native societies developed, summarizes the early and late human biology or physical anthropology of Indians and Eskimos, and surveys the earliest prehistoric cultures. Volume 4 contains details on the history of the relations between Native American and Euro-American societies. Volume 16 is a continent-wide survey of technology and the visual arts. Volumes 18 and 19 are a biographical dictionary. Volume 20 contains an index to the whole series and includes a list of errata found in all preceding volumes.

This volume surveys the native languages of North America, those spoken by American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts. It contains 15 chapters on general topics and 12 grammatical sketches of individual languages.

The term North America is used in the Handbook of North American Indians in its anthropological sense, referring to the peoples north of the urban civilizations in central Mexico. The Native peoples of Middle America are surveyed in the Handbook of Middle American Indians. As an exception to this repatriation, the peoples of Baja California, which are treated in the Handbook of Middle American Indians, are not covered in the Handbook of North American Indians. Despite this general exclusion of these peoples, because the languages of Baja California have generally figured in classifications of North American languages they are discussed in this volume.

The native languages of North America do not belong to a single family or conform to a single uniform type. For the consideration of general questions in linguistic theory regarding the nature of human language and its varieties, the North American languages take their places among the languages of the rest of the world. In fact these languages are extraordinarily diverse, and concomitantly they attest some types of linguistic organization that are rare elsewhere and whose study has greatly enriched the understanding of the basic principles of language.

In spite of this diversity several factors make it reasonable to treat these languages in a single volume. They are the languages of the peoples of North America, forming the linguistic component of the cultures treated in the Handbook. They share similar recent histories, circumstances, and histories of study. And they have faced similar fates as they pass out of use with accelerating speed.

The general topics selected for treatment are those with a substantive linguistic or ethnographic content, or both, that were judged most likely to be of wide interest. Additional chapters on more restricted linguistic topics or with some linguistic content appear in other volumes of the Handbook. In particular, each of the areal volumes (5-15) contains one or more general chapters on the languages spoken in the culture area covered in the volume. The ethnographic chapters include orthographic footnotes giving information on the sound system of each language and how it is transcribed. The work is the basic reference for the native American cultures and history. Highly recommended.


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