Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet

Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet

Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet

Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet

Synopsis

Rosalyn R. LaPier demonstrates that Blackfeet history is incomplete without an understanding of the Blackfeet people's relationship and mode of interaction with the "invisible reality" of the supernatural world. Religious beliefs provided the Blackfeet continuity through privations and changing times. The stories they passed to new generations and outsiders reveal the fundamental philosophy of Blackfeet existence, namely, the belief that they could alter, change, or control nature to suit their needs and that they were able to do so with the assistance of supernatural allies. The Blackfeet did not believe they had to adapt to nature. They made nature adapt. Their relationship with the supernatural provided the Blackfeet with stability and continuity, and made predictable the seeming unpredictability of the natural world in which they lived.

In Invisible Reality Rosalyn LaPier presents an unconventional, creative, and innovative history that blends extensive archival research, vignettes of family stories, and traditional knowledge learned from elders along with personal reflections of her own journey learning Blackfeet stories. The result is a nuanced look at the history of the Blackfeet and their relationship with the natural world.

Excerpt

Writing about American Indian, Native American, or Indigenous peoples brings with it many distinct challenges and questions. However, if the author is also Native American, writing about Native peoples brings even more challenges and questions. Scholarship of Native peoples is always suspect in today’s world. Scholars such as Vine Deloria Jr., Devon Mihesuah, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Edward Said, and others question the validity of most scholarship written about Native people. This assertion is especially true if the sources used for the scholarship are presumed to be from a non-Native perspective. Even the terminology used to describe Native people is questioned. For example, I use the terms “Native American” or “Native” to define the peoples of the northern Great Plains who were present before the arrival of Europeans and Americans and not “American Indian” or “Indigenous.” I also use the phrase “old-time Indians” or “old-timers.” I am not choosing these terms for academic, theoretical purposes or even political purposes but just because that is what people call themselves.

The beginning of a book is usually the place to provide basic information about a writer’s methodology, what sources she will use, how she will interpret the sources, and how she will construct her own interpretation. However, because of these modern-day concerns regarding validity and authenticity I will begin by addressing questions such as, Am I really . . .

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