The Land Looks after Us: A History of Native American Religion

The Land Looks after Us: A History of Native American Religion

The Land Looks after Us: A History of Native American Religion

The Land Looks after Us: A History of Native American Religion

Synopsis

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 in1919, 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 tribesin 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 dozensof 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, fromPuritanism 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.

Excerpt

[Our land, our religion, and our life are one.]

Voiced by a Hopi man in 1951, this statement points to an important truth about his and many other Native Americans' approaches to the sacred: religion was not separated from the rest of life. Well before non-Natives arrived, Native Americans fused spirituality with place and practice to imbue everyday, local realities with the most profound significance. As a consequence, in North America there emerged an extraordinary variety of rich, rooted traditions of meaning and power, a first form of North American religious pluralism. The traditions comprising this unmatched diversity cultivated an unequaled intimacy with specific landscapes. These traditions, collectively and individually, deserve and reward close attention. They provide unique perspectives on America. They reveal important dimensions of spiritual life. They matter.

But representing any one, let alone all, of these traditions adequately in one book is impossible. Because so many of these traditions were not separated from the rest of life . . .

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