Main CategoriesNative American TeachingsSioux, Hopi and Intertribal Wisdom Wisdom of the Elders

Wisdom of the Elders

Product no.: 0-553-37263-7
A meticulous and well-documented gathering of sacred stories and traditions from over 22 different indigenous and native cultures of our contemporary twentieth century world.

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Publisher's Synopsis

Deeply profound ecological wisdom about our universe, our planet, and our physical and spiritual lives as human beings is to be gleaned from this compendium of resources.


"This book provides an interesting examination of some of the ecological themes that are of concern both to scientists and indigenous people in various parts of the world. The authors contend that these two groups pursue their knowledge of the natural world in different but complementary ways and often come to similar conclusions.

Throughout, the scientific viewpoint is compared to the native perspective. Each chapter focuses on a particular ecological or biological topic, and several pertinent examples from a variety of traditional world cultures are described. Relevant quotations from well-known scientists and ecologists are interspersed within the text, providing further thoughtful commentary. Overall, this is a well-organized, sensitive, and thought-provoking work that will be useful in popular science and ecology collections."        ~Library Journal


"The eminent Swedish historian of religion Ake Hultkranu suggests that the narrow Western term nature seems incapable of enfolding Native notions of a vast, spiritually charged cosmic continuum, in which human society, biosphere, and the whole universe are seamlessly rolled into one. The Western religious dichotomy between a world of spiritual plentitude and a world of material imperfection, a dualism pertaining to Christian and Gnostic doctrines, he states, has no counter-part in American Indian thinking. Indians value highly life on earth, and their religion supports their existence in the world. The whole spirit of the religion is one of harmony, vitality, and appreciation of the world around them.

According to Alfonso Ortiz, a Tewa Indian and well-known anthropologist: Indian tribes put nothing above nature. Their gods are a part of nature, on the level of nature, not supra-anything. Conversely, there's nothing that is religious, versus something else that is secular. Native American religion pervades, informs all life. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that this inherent spiritual dimension does not mean that Native nature-wisdom is somehow naively romantic, ethereal, or disconnected from ordinary life.

Native knowledge about nature is firmly rooted in reality, in keen personal observation, interaction, and thought, sharpened by the daily rigors of uncertain survival. Its validity rests largely upon the authority of hard-won personal experience-upon concrete encounters with game animals and arduous treks across the actual physical contours of local landscapes, enriched by night dreams, contemplations, and waking visions. The junction between knowledge and experience is tight, continuous, and dynamic, giving rise to 'truths' that are likely to be correspondingly intelligent, fluid, and vibrantly 'alive'."

Author Suzuki, David
Coauthor Knudtson, Peter
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 320 pp.
Publisher Bantam Books 1993
Browse these categories as well: Sioux, Hopi and Intertribal Wisdom, Ancient Mystic and Modern Scientific Parallelism, Ecology and the Gaia Hypothesis, Medicine Men and Crazy Heyokas

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