A revelatory new look at the hallowed, diverse, and threatened landscapes of the American Indian
For thousands of years , Native Americans have told stories about the powers of revered landscapes and sought spiritual direction at mysterious places in their homelands. In this important book, respected scholar and anthropologist Peter Nabokov writes of a wide range of sacred places in Native America. From the “high country” of California to Tennessee's Tellico Valley, from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Rainbow Canyon in Arizona, each chapter delves into the relationship between Indian cultures and their environments and describes the myths and legends, practices, and rituals that sustained them.
According to UCLA professor Nabokov (Native American Testimony), the places that American Indians call sacred may be as wondrous as "cliffs spilling with waterfalls" and as humble as "caves splattered with bat excrement." What makes them important is not postcard-perfect beauty but the beliefs a group has about "what lies within or beneath what the eye can see." This excellent volume presents the "biographies" of 16 such places, from Maine to California. Through them, Nabokov surveys a wide range of Native American spiritual practices and reveals how intrusions into Native Americans' land have also constituted assaults upon their religious beliefs. Indeed, many of the assaults continue to this day: after the disruptions caused by war, disease, missionary activity and forced relocation came those of hydroelectric dams, agribusiness, parking lots and extreme sports buffs. Nabokov's deeply informed text is enhanced by first-person accounts of his visits to the locations and by his spirited commentary on the writings of other ethnographers, naturalists, linguists and anthropologists. Sentimental cliches and monolithic views are dismantled along the way. Each of Nabokov's biographies can be savored separately; taken together, they demonstrate both that there is "more to some American places than [meets] the eye" and that Native Americans have known that for a very long time. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.