Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California

Overview

A history that is equal parts science and mythology, Sacred Sites offers a rare and poetic vision of a world composed of dynamic natural forces and mythic characters. The result is a singular and memorable account of the evolution of the Southern California landscape, reflecting the riches of both Native knowledge and Western scientific thought.

Beginning with Western science, poet Susan Suntree carries readers from the Big Bang to the present as she describes the origins of the...

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Overview

A history that is equal parts science and mythology, Sacred Sites offers a rare and poetic vision of a world composed of dynamic natural forces and mythic characters. The result is a singular and memorable account of the evolution of the Southern California landscape, reflecting the riches of both Native knowledge and Western scientific thought.

Beginning with Western science, poet Susan Suntree carries readers from the Big Bang to the present as she describes the origins of the universe, the shifting of tectonic plates, and an evolving array of plants and animals that give Southern California its unique features today. She tells of the migration of humans into the region, where they settled, and how they lived. Complementing this narrative and reflecting the Native people’s view of their own history and way of life, Suntree recounts the creation myths and songs that tell the story of the First People, of unforgettable shamans and heroes, and of the origins and migrations of the human beings.

Featuring contemporary photographs of rarely seen landmarks along with meticulous research, Sacred Sites provides unusual insight into how natural history and mythology, and scientific and intuitive thinking combine to create an ever-deepening sense of a place and its people.

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Editorial Reviews

Carolyn See
"Sacred Sites is a glowing monument to the magic that trails behind each one of us humans, a sweet testament to imagination and whatever God we may acknowledge. I have nothing but respect and awe for this absolutely unique work of art."

-Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers

Anthony Morales
"Sacred Sites honors the power and beauty of our indigenous heritage and homeland. By knowing our history we better understand the present and our journey into the future."

-Anthony Morales, tribal chair, Gabrielino Tongva Council of San Gabriel

Peter Nabokov
"This symphonic epic in verse repatriates the four-billion-year history of Southern California to its native heart and soul. Scrupulously researched from hard-to-find sources of California Indian myth, song, legend, and tale, and completely committed to its diverse Native perspectives on human-land-animal relations, the work is funny, sad, mysterious, and wise. Here is an ambitious master myth of the grand vintage we thought went out with Charles Olson and Walt Whitman. After sailing through this triumph of literary montage the Southland will never seem the same-it has become Indian Country again."

-Peter Nabokov, American Indian Studies Program at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places

Raymond V. Ingersoll
"Susan Suntree presents a readable and broadly accessible account of the history of the universe, Earth, and Southern California in this scholarly and creative blend of ancient myth and modern science."

-Raymond V. Ingersoll, professor of geology at the University of California, Los Angeles

Rhonda Robles
"Susan Suntree demonstrates her love for the natural world along with her deep respect for the First Peoples of Southern California. The cultures of the Tongva and the Acjachemem are rich beyond measure and well documented in stories and traditions. We are not gone. We still exist. The wisdom and responsibility of being of the land is not taken lightly. Susan appreciates and supports this connection. Years of research and writing are shared with the reader."

-Rhonda Robles, member of the Acjachemem Nation

Carolyn See

Sacred Sites is a glowing monument to the magic that trails behind each one of us humans, a sweet testament to imagination and whatever God we may acknowledge. I have nothing but respect and awe for this absolutely unique work of art.”—Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers
Anthony Morales

Sacred Sites honors the power and beauty of our indigenous heritage and homeland. By knowing our history we better understand the present and our journey into the future.”—Anthony Morales, tribal chair, Gabrielino Tongva Council of San Gabriel
Peter Nabokov
“This symphonic epic in verse repatriates the four-billion-year history of Southern California to its native heart and soul. Scrupulously researched from hard-to-find sources of California Indian myth, song, legend, and tale, and completely committed to its diverse Native perspectives on human-land-animal relations, the work is funny, sad, mysterious, and wise. Here is an ambitious master myth of the grand vintage we thought went out with Charles Olson and Walt Whitman. After sailing through this triumph of literary montage the Southland will never seem the same—it has become Indian Country again.”—Peter Nabokov, professor in the American Indian Studies Program at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places
Raymond V. Ingersoll

“Susan Suntree presents a readable and broadly accessible account of the history of the universe, Earth, and Southern California in this scholarly and creative blend of ancient myth and modern science.”—Raymond V. Ingersoll, professor of geology at the University of California, Los Angeles

Rhonda Robles

“Susan Suntree demonstrates her love for the natural world along with her deep respect for the First Peoples of Southern California. The cultures of the Tongva and the Acjachemem are rich beyond measure and well documented in stories and traditions. We are not gone. We still exist. The wisdom and responsibility of being of the land is not taken lightly. Susan appreciates and supports this connection. Years of research and writing are shared with the reader.”—Rhonda Robles, member of the Acjachemem Nation

Monsters and Critics

"A history that is equal parts science and mythology, Sacred Sites offers a rare and poetic vision of a world composed of dynamic natural forces and mythic characters."—Sandy Amazeen, Monsters and Critics

— Sandy Amazeen

Bloomsbury Review

"A geological and cultural human history of Southern California in verse? Impossible, right? Not so, as this is exactly what California native Susan Suntree has done. And to Suntree''s credit, her performance of this "impossible" feat is not only competent, it shines."—Thomas Crowe, Bloomsbury Review

— Thomas Crowe

Bloomsbury Review - Thomas Crowe

"A geological and cultural human history of Southern California in verse? Impossible, right? Not so, as this is exactly what California native Susan Suntree has done. And to Suntree's credit, her performance of this "impossible" feat is not only competent, it shines."—Thomas Crowe, Bloomsbury Review
Monsters and Critics - Sandy Amazeen

"A history that is equal parts science and mythology, Sacred Sites offers a rare and poetic vision of a world composed of dynamic natural forces and mythic characters."—Sandy Amazeen, Monsters and Critics
Western American Literature - Brett Garcia Myhren

"Suntree tells the story that is least often told, and for that alone readers can be grateful."—Brett Garcia Myhren, Western American Literature
Tribal College Journal - Jurgita Antoine

"In this book, meticulously researched geology, geography, history, and oral traditions are put in motion by a performer's touch. . . . Sacred Sites is an outstanding literary work, combining science with the spirituality of Native oral traditions."Jurgita Antoine, Tribal College Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803231986
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,417,922
  • Product dimensions: 8.76 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Suntree’s previous books include Wisdom of the East: Stories of Compassion, Inspiration, and Love; Rita Moreno; and Eye of the Womb. She teaches at East Los Angeles College. Gary Snyder’s literary awards include the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Turtle Island and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Lowell John Bean is an anthropologist and the author and editor of numerous books and articles about California and Southwest Native American cultures and peoples. Juergen Nogai’s work has appeared in magazines, books, and museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide.
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