Sacred Fire

Overview

Sacred Fire means longevity and hope. It is one of the Four Great Ancestors - Water, Air, Earth, and Fire - necessary for all life. It is the Old Man's job to keep the Sacred Fire burning so that the Indian people can remember the ways of their ancestors. This is the Old Man's tale, as he watches the history of his people unfold. For hundreds of years the Pueblo world was powerful and continuous. Then the Spanish conquistadors arrived, and disease, starvation, slavery, and torture followed. Desperately the Indian...
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Overview

Sacred Fire means longevity and hope. It is one of the Four Great Ancestors - Water, Air, Earth, and Fire - necessary for all life. It is the Old Man's job to keep the Sacred Fire burning so that the Indian people can remember the ways of their ancestors. This is the Old Man's tale, as he watches the history of his people unfold. For hundreds of years the Pueblo world was powerful and continuous. Then the Spanish conquistadors arrived, and disease, starvation, slavery, and torture followed. Desperately the Indian people sought to save not only their lives, but also their heritage. For if the Sacred Fire were to go out, the people's spirit would die. Using the Old Man as her guide, Nancy Wood chronicles the history, religion, legends, and philosophy of the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest in poetry and prose. Frank Howell's paintings evoke the pride and nobility of an embattled people whose hard-earned wisdom can enrich all our lives.

A collection of poems and paintings centered on the beliefs and ancestral wisdom of the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-For the Pueblo people, the Sacred Fire is associated with wisdom, purification, potential, longevity, and hope, and it must be kept burning so that the they can "remember the ways of their ancestors." These themes are explored here in poems and poetic prose that discuss the Native American experience, including creation stories; relationships with nature in the forms of the elements, plants, animals, and spirits; and the immediate and lasting effects of the European incursion on the people and their traditions. Strength and beauty are evident but are often overwhelmed by sadness, despair, confusion, and rage. Simple language leads readers to complex thoughts, emotions, and images. Spectacular artwork accompanies the text. Many of these haunting paintings begin with a detailed and deeply textured face, then drift off from realism to a dreamlike spread of color and movement. Some of the stunning paintings and drawings bring to mind Georgia O'Keeffe, or the art-deco style. All of them are intriguing. A unique book that is both evocative and thought-provoking.-Darcy Schild, Schwegler Elementary School, Lawrence, KS
Kirkus Reviews
In another collaboration with Howell, Wood (Dancing Moons, 1995, etc.) uses poetry and prose to tell of the Pueblo people of the Southwest, a story at once melancholy and wonderfully dense with cultural landscapes. The hardship suffered by the Pueblos after the Spanish occupation brings a concurrent sense of survivance, and of holding tight to the cosmology, rituals, and pacing of their everyday lives. The story is told by the Old Man, guardian of the Sacred Fire, one of the four great elements and symbolic of longevity, hope, wisdom, and purification. While the Sacred Flame is central to the book, Wood ranges far and wide, into Sun Dances and corn ceremonies, community and tradition. The poems can be incantatory; some are simple explication ("What came with us in the Beginning Time?/Turtle Spirit./What comforted us in the Middle Way?/Buffalo Spirit"), while others are more elusive ("We are afraid to remember obsidian,/because it reminds us of pain"). Salted between poems are pieces through which Old Man fills the gaps, sketches in the memories, locates what abides: spirit, humility, grace, generosity. Howell's artwork is arresting, with an emotional lucidity that conveys powerful people, facing adversity without losing their way. (Poetry. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385325158
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/8/1998
  • Pages: 75
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.63 (w) x 10.56 (h) x 0.63 (d)

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