Distinguished Native American Spiritual Practitioners and Healers|
by Troy R. Johnson (Author)
From Library Journal
For this new A-to-Z resource, Johnson (history, California State Univ., Long
Beach) has written short biographical essays on 100 Native American spiritual
figures. The figures profiled are a mix of the well known, such as Sitting Bull,
Geronimo, and Black Elk; the less famous, such as Wovoka and Quanah Parker; and
many who will be obscure to the average reader. The earliest subject dates from
the mid-14th century (Deganawida), while the most recent (Reuben A. Snake Jr.)
was born in 1937. Each entry provides all of the subject's variant names, birth
and death dates (if known), education, and leadership position. The two- to
three-page essays include a summary, a description of the subject's early life
and leadership, and suggestions of print and electronic sources for further
reading. Two appendixes list the subjects by birth date and by nation or group,
and a general index is included. With its breadth of coverage, this is a good
first stop for researching specific Native American spiritual leaders or
healers. The introduction is brief and does not attempt a broader overview of
the subject of Native American spirituality. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
Although there is increased interest in Native American religious practices,
there are relatively few new reference books on the topic. Johnson, California
State University-Long Beach associate professor of American Indian studies,
provides a basic reference tool on the lives of 100 contemporary and historical
Native spiritual leaders. Each of the 100 lengthy (1,000 to 2,000 word) entries
begins with a "quick summary heading" listing the individual's full name at
birth (with variants), birth and death data, education, and leadership title.
Entries conclude with a three- to nine-item bibliography for further reading and
research. Wherever possible, a Web site and a black-and-white photograph are included.
Subjects include Aiowantha (Hiawatha), Charles Eastman, Quanah Parker, Susan La
Flesche Picotte, Pretty-Shield, Kateri Tekakwitha, and White Buffalo Calf Woman.
Some were educated as medical practitioners; others were cultural heroes
recognized by their nation as prophets or healers. There are two appendixes. One
lists "Native American Spiritual Practitioners and Healers by Birth Date"
(year), and the second lists them by nation or group. The lengthy bibliography
includes three double-columned pages of Web sites.
The introduction does not explain how the main entry names were selected. In
some cases, the entry heading reflects the subject's birth name (as in the case
of the person commonly known as Hiawatha, whose entry is under Aiowantha). In
other cases the entry appears under the commonly recognized name (for example,
Sitting Bull). See entries help resolve most difficulties. Other drawbacks
include guide words being listed only on odd-numbered pages and no guide to
Even with its minor shortcomings this work is helpful, especially in locating
biographical information on healers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
There is some overlap with Encyclopedia of Native American Religions: An
Introduction (rev. ed., Facts On File, 2000), which offers discussions of
spiritual traditions as well as biographical information on Christian
missionaries like Marcus Whitman. Teamed together these two works will provide
good coverage. This moderately priced reference work will be most useful in
public and college libraries where there is a local or curricular need for
information on Native American religious practices.
Hardcover: 344 pages
Publisher: Oryx Press (April 30, 2002)