Young Adults Books

THE VOICE OF THE GREAT SPIRIT: PROPHECIES OF THE HOPI INDIANS. Rudolph Kaiser, Shambhala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02115, (800) 638-6460, (617) 236-1563. Illustrated, maps, bibliography. 143 pp., $10.00 paper. 0-87773-602-2

Kaiser, a West German historian primarily known as the debunker of the famous environmental speech of Chief Seattle (Seattle never said, for example, that "we are part of the earth, and the earth is a part of us," although he probably felt those sentiments), wants to share Hopi prophesy with a world "on a perilous or fatal path."

His desire to inform readers about this private aspect of Hopi religion apparently overrides their objections that he refrain from doing so. Kaiser even includes his challenges to their oppositions as part of the book. Yes, the Hopi have for for many years had dissention within their leadership, but that is no reason to pilfer their religion while their attention is diverted.

While the book does outline a credible history of the Hopi, the inclusion of material that many of them vociferously do not want revealed leads me to warn readers to stay away from this book. Rviewed by: Steve Brock

A Second Look: What to do when there is division about what should or should not be published is often a difficult decision for writers. Not in this case, though. Kaiser's sources have been published elsewhere -- by Hopis of one or another faction. In many case, these prophecies are published very widely indeed, by travelling speakers like Thomas Banyacya, visiting the U.S. and taking speaking engagements everywhere. To say that a reputable historian should not use such material because others of the tribe oppose it is to urge self-censorship. If there are secrets to be kept, best not have tribal speakers taking speaking engagements and presenting them to wide and diverse audiences. Once it's out, it's out. In this case, the prophecies are those Hopi spokesmen have been testifying about to Congress, the United nations, travelling around public speaking about them, writing statementsa sent out to many organizations, etc. The reviwer's objection is ridiculous. --Paula Giese

File: ya309

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Monday, March 11, 1996 - 11:37:17 AM