Native American Religion / Edition 1

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Native Americans practice some of America's most spiritually profound, historically resilient, and ethically demanding religions. Joel Martin draws his narrative from folk stories, rituals, and even landscapes to trace the development of Native American religion from ancient burial mounds, through interactions with European conquerors and missionaries, and on to the modern-day rebirth of ancient rites and beliefs. The book depicts the major cornerstones of American Indian history and religion—the vast movements for pan-Indian renewal, the formation of the Native American Church in 1919, the passage of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act of 1990, and key political actions involving sacred sites in the 1980s and '90s. Martin explores the close links between religion and Native American culture and history. Legendary chiefs like Osceola and Tecumseh led their tribes in resistance movements against the European invaders, inspired by prophets like the Shawnee Tenskwatawa and the Mohawk Coocoochee. Catharine Brown, herself a convert, founded a school for Cherokee women and converted dozens of her people to Christianity. Their stories, along with those of dozens of other men and women—from noble warriors to celebrated authors—are masterfully woven into this vivid, wide-ranging survey of Native American history and religion.

Religion in American Life explores the evolution, character, and dynamics of organized religion in America from 1500 to the present day. Written by distinguished religious historians, these books weave together the varying stories that compose the religious fabric of the United States, from Puritanism to alternative religious practices. Primary source material coupled with handsome illustrations and lucid text make these books essential in any exploration of America's diverse nature. Each book includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, and index.

Discusses the world view and beliefs of various Native American religions and their role in promoting survival of the devastation caused by the arrival of Europeans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A scholarly examination of religious life and practices from ancient times through the Colonial period and the Western Expansion, and into the 20th century.... Personal stories of famous and ordinary people are interspersed throughout the text."—School Library Journal

"The sheer volume of data Martin has collected is impressive... Researchers will find plenty potential topics herein, with an extensive list of further reading to aid them."—Kirkus Reviews

"Beautifully written, well illustrated, supported with maps and a bibliography for further reading, Native American Religion is a wonderful addition to the Religion in American Life series. Whether you teach about religion in America or not, this book is a must read."—Religious Studies in Secondary Schools

"Emphasizing the broad diversity of and the role of nature and the environment in Native religions, this well-written account covers the religious beliefs and practices of various tribes."—The Horn Book Guide

"The book is full of fascinating facts and stories... An interesting introduction to a complicated subject."—VOYA

"From ceremonial mounds to modern lawsuits related to sacred sites, the story of Native American religions covers great expanses of time and crosses hundreds of cultures. This book, for ages 12 and up, probes pre-contact traditions, examines cultural exchanges during the colonial period, and treats contemporary challenges facing native peoples."—Curriculum Administrator

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-A scholarly examination of religious life and practices from ancient times through the Colonial period and the Western Expansion, and into the 20th century. Martin acknowledges the importance of religion in all aspects of Native American daily life and explores some of the differences among the various cultures. He also addresses the impact of the arrival of Europeans on spiritual life. The opening chapter, "Circling Earth," sensitively explores the connections among agriculture, structures, the landscape, and beliefs. The chapter on Christianity evenly shows the many ways Native peoples were introduced to it, some painfully and violently, others gently and willingly. "Homecoming" is an interesting examination of modern spirituality and cultural revival. Personal stories of famous and ordinary people are interspersed throughout the text. Average-quality black-and-white photographs and reproductions illustrate the book.-Mary B. McCarthy, ACLIN/Colorado State Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A murky chronicle of 5,000 years of Native American religious practices and history. Native American spirituality is a big topic, encompassing diverse customs and observances. The connective theme, according to Martin, is that unlike religions such as Christianity or Buddhism, which "can be practiced anywhere," many Native American religions are tied to a way of life, and to a specific landscape. While the sheer volume of data Martin has collected is impressive, the book jumps around from one tradition to another; the material is dense, and the lack of an overall narrative thrust compromises both cohesion and clarity. The most compelling and orderly discussion concerns the impact of Christianity on the spirituality of indigenous peoples. Martin concludes with information on various legal battles being waged over tribal holy lands and ceremonial places, and with the hope that this rich spiritual life can remain vital. Researchers will find plenty potential topics herein, with an extensive list of further reading to aid them. (index, not seen, b&w photos, chronology) (Nonfiction. 14+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195110357
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Series: Religion in American Life Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

University of California, Riverside
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