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Record Type: Review   ID: 272

Surviving in Two Worlds: Comtemporary Native American Voices

Crozier-Hogle, Lois, & Wilson, Darryl Babe

 Lois Crozier-Hogle, who has had a life-long concern with environmental issues, became curious about how Native Americans were able to respond to the widespread destruction of vegetation and disregard for the land that is unthinkingly accepted by many Americans whose origin was in other countries. She quotes Chief Seattle in her Foreword, who said "Every part of this country is sacred to my people" (p. xii). She embarked on a project that would take several years interviewing Native Americans in order to find the answer to this question: "What is it within the heart and soul of the Native American that could sustain this sense of sacredness for our earth? I wanted to find out" (p. xii). She asked Darryl Wilson, a full-blooded Native American writer and poet who collects and preserves the old cultures and history of Native peoples, to join her in locating and interviewing educated Native Americans who have succeeded in adjusting to present-day culture yet are still nurtured and strengthened by their traditional tribal wisdom. Perhaps it could inform members of the other races who have come here as to how to honor the land and all its inhabitants and still "make it" in the America of today. It was a much-needed question to ask, for the answers were varied yet emphasized the same theme: that instead of being led like the carrot and the donkey by the desire for consumer goods we must learn to honor and listen to the land itself, which for Native Americans, is spirit. The people interviewed in this book are forerunners of those spoken of in a Native American prophecy "of a time when a new generation of Native people will work to recover their ways of life" (p. 4). As Darryl Babe Wilson puts it, "We must listen to those of wisdom among us who have issued us ‘laws’ to live by in order to preserve and respect Earth. For this earth isn’t ours to damage ... it is ours to cherish for the rest of time" (p. xxviii). Although this book emphasizes how Native Americans do it, it was written so we non-native Americans can learn from them, for we are all sinking in the same boat, but if we consult those who know how to navigate, we may yet bring our foundering craft to land. There are 6 parts, each composed of 4 to 6 interviews, all from the Native American perspective. Their titles are Tradition Is Evidence for the Truth of Life; The World Torn in Two; It Must be Healed: Walking in Two Worlds; The Children Are Our Future; and We Can Have New Visions. This volume gives birth to a vision, which Lois Crozier-Hogle describes in the epilogue. It is that "we can learn to accept one another’s [Indians’ and non-Indians’] best values and bring together the best in both worlds" (p. 253), and in the process, save both the world and ourselves. The Indian Way is to listen to and follow the numinous, the sacred, which is mediated by dreams, voices, visions, Earth itself—all experiences that for non-Indians have become exceptional human experiences.
Publisher Information:Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1997. Pp. xv + 258. Bibl: 256-258; 26 photos
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