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Shamanism/Indigenous Peoples
Record Type: Review   ID: 271


Brown, Tom, Jr.

 Wilderness writer Tom Brown attempts a biography of the man who taught him wilderness ways and values, his grandfather, Stalking Wolf, a Lipan Apache, born in the 1880s. His small band tried to stay out of the fighting with the White Man, and went to places rarely visited, living a nomadic life, cultivating a life of physical and spiritual simplicity. Brown notes: "Out of the deepening of an understanding of the spiritual dimension came the ... ability to communicate with each other and the natural forces in a real, forceful, and essential way" (p. 3). This book is not just about a man but a vocation, one that has increasing relevance in today’s multicultural world. There have been many "Renaissance men" (and women) who tried to master all aspects of civilized culture from the arts to the sciences and the humanities. But Tom Brown’s grandfather may serve as the model for a post-postmodern primal person: "He sought out anyone with any primitive skill, no matter if it came from the Native American culture or some old hermit living in the bush; everything interested him and he wanted to learn everything. His quest ... took him from Alaska to South America, from the East Coast to the West Coast of America, and everywhere in between. He wanted to learn the skills that could be used in any environment, any weather condition, and in any topography. Most of all, he wanted to know what skills would be universal to all places and situations. So too he would learn the skills known both by the men and by the women" (p. 5). He viewed these skills as a way to create harmony between humans and the rest of nature so they could live in harmony and balance, unfettered by the strictures of society. He also sought "spiritual wisdom that was viable and would work all of the time. He sought a dynamic communications with the world of nature and the realm of the spirit that would work for anyone and everyone. ... Without spiritual skills, men could not become ‘one’ with the natural world, nor communicate with the things beyond flesh. ... In all that he pursued, the spiritual was the foremost" (p. 6). At age 10 he had a very powerful vision that revealed his vocation. The book is about how he carried it out. His calling was not only in service to his own people but to all humans. It was his destiny to teach any one who came to him, regardless of race, for "the old ways and philosophies would not die. As the white men eventually saw the emptiness of his ways ... then these ways would be reborn" (p. 190). Tom Brown Jr. has followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, and we are fortunate that he has given us this biography of a post-postmodern primal person.
Publisher Information:New York: Berkley Books, 1993. 202p
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