Encyclopedia of Native American Religions

Encyclopedia of Native American Religions

by Arlene B. Hirschfelder
     
 

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Long regarded as quaint curiosities or exotic pagan rites, the religious practices of Native Americans make up a rich, enduring legacy deserving of a place among the great spiritual traditions. The volume features a foreword written by Walter R. Echo-Hawk, a senior staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, whose legal experience includes cases involving

Overview

Long regarded as quaint curiosities or exotic pagan rites, the religious practices of Native Americans make up a rich, enduring legacy deserving of a place among the great spiritual traditions. The volume features a foreword written by Walter R. Echo-Hawk, a senior staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, whose legal experience includes cases involving religious freedom and reburial rights. This volume is available in paperback for the first time.

Featuring more than 1,200 cross-referenced entries, this encyclopedia is a fascinating guide to the spiritual traditions of Native Americans in the United States and Canada, including coverage of beliefs about the afterlife, symbolism, creation myths, and vision quests; important ceremonies and dances; prominent American Indian religious figures; and events, legislation, and tribal court cases that have shaped the development of Native American religions.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
In this updated edition of an earlier volume published in 1992, the authors attempt to compile the breadth of Native religions. The book briefly examines four topics, beginning with ceremonies, such as the Cree Jump Dance used to communicate with the dead. Religious people are covered, from missionaries to shamans. Concepts or objects, such as the ancestral rain spirit Koko, and court cases, such as the Religious Freedom Information Act of 1993, are described alphabetically and cross-listed. Because the authors respect the sanctity of the religions, they only include information that has previously appeared in print. Though justified and honorable, this practice tends to dilute the information. Taken with the necessity to combine information, these qualities tend to make for generic rather than specific reading. For example, the description under the entry for Animal Dances states "Ceremonies held during winter variously named after buffalo, deer, antelope, or other game animals and having many different functions.... Dancers may be masked or unmasked, and some may portray a great deal or little, if any, impersonation of animal behavior." Conversely, the book excels in describing the founding principles of many of these religions. For example, when discussing the concept of soul, the authors state "Every healthy individual has one soul linked to breath and life that dies with the body and another, called a free soul, that leaves the body in dreams or vision states, often traveling to distant places and on occasion visiting the land of the dead." This book is an excellent complement to those libraries with a rich collection of Native American resources. Index. Illus. Photos. FurtherReading. 2000, Facts on File, 390p. PLB Ages 12 to Adult. Reviewer: Ann T. Reddy-Damon SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Booknews
Educators Hirshfelder and Molin offer over 1,200 entries describing traditional beliefs and worship practices, the consequences of contact with Europeans and other Americans, and the forms Native American religions take today. They include biographies of key figures, court cases concerning the religious rights of prisoners, national and state legislation, religious rights in the military, sacred sites, tribal court cases involving the participation of non-Indians in Native American religious ceremonies, and other matters. The entries are well cross-referenced. The first edition was published in 1992. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816039494
Publisher:
Infobase Publishing
Publication date:
09/01/2001
Series:
Facts on File Series
Edition description:
REVISED
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

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