Young Adults Books

SPIRITUAL LEADERS: AMERICAN INDIAN LIVES, Paul Robert Walker; Facts on File, Inc., 460 Park Avenue South, N.Y., NY 10016, (800) 322- 8755, FAX: (212) 213-4578; 1994, 144 pages, index, annotated bibliography, photos. Hardcover, $17.95; 0-8160-2875-3

Part of th FoF American Indian Lives series, biographis for YA readers (and schools). In the introduction, Walker says: "Th most basic spiritual truth among American Indian tribes is this: Religion was an integral part of their daily lives. They did not go to church on Sunday and forget it the rest of the week. Every action -- from household chorse to politics, hunting, and warfare -- had spiritual significance." As this indicates, most of the spiritual leaders included here were actually leaders of resistance to white incroachments, or prophets and others whose visions lent support and strength to such resistances. The exception is the 20th century people. Black Elk had a great vision, but believed he had failed, and "the people's hoop is broken and scattered; there is no center any longer; the great tree is dead." The two women included in the book, apparently for PC-ness are not spiritual leaders in any sense. Onee is the pragmatic Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Mountain Wolf Woman (who would hav chuckled at such a designation) and the other is a Cahuilla curandera, or doctor. In the sense of war laders, or spiritual support for them, there are no records of native women in such roles.

Chapters of this book are: Passaconway: Son of the bear (Western Abenaki, 1630's); Popé: Prophet of the Pueblo revolt (San Juan, 1675); Neolin: The Delaware Prophet (Lenni Lenape, 1760); Handsome Lake: prophet of the Good Word (Seneca, 1799); Tenskwatawa: The Shawnee Prophet (Shawnee, 1805); Kenekuk: The Kikapoo prophet (1820); Smohalla: the Washani prophet (Wanapum-Yakima, 1850); John Slocum: The Shaker prophet (Salish, 1881); Zotom: Warrior, artist, missionary, seeker (Kiowa, 1874); Wovoka: The Ghost Dance prophet (Nummu/Northern Paiute); Black Elk: Lakota holy man (Lakota Sioux, 1930); Mountain Wolf Woman (Ho-chunk/Winnebago, 1958); Ruby Modesto: Desert Cahuilla Medicine Woman (Cahuilla, 1976).

This book seems to have been written entirely from published sources. In the case of the 2 women, only 1 autobiographical source is cited for each, but although these women are both survived by relatives who might have been consulted to flesh out the stories they earlier told of themsleves to anthropologists. Reviewed by Paula Giese

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

Last Updated: Friday, April 19, 1996 - 5:56:30 AM