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The Land Looks After Us: A History of Native American Religion

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Native Americans practice some of America's most spiritually profound, historically resilient, and ethically demanding religions. Joel Martin draws his narrative from folk stories, rituals, and even landscapes to trace the development of Native American religion from ancient burial mounds, through interactions with European conquerors and missionaries, and on to the modern Native Americans practice some of America's most spiritually profound, historically resilient, and ethically demanding religions. Joel Martin draws his narrative from folk stories, rituals, and even landscapes to trace the development of Native American religion from ancient burial mounds, through interactions with European conquerors and missionaries, and on to the modern-day rebirth of ancient rites and beliefs. The book depicts the major cornerstones of American Indian history and religion--the vast movements for pan-Indian renewal, the formation of the Native American Church in 1919, the passage of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act of 1990, and key political actions involving sacred sites in the 1980s and '90s. Martin explores the close links between religion and Native American culture and history. Legendary chiefs like Osceola and Tecumseh led their tribes in resistance movements against the European invaders, inspired by prophets like the Shawnee Tenskwatawa and the Mohawk Coocoochee. Catharine Brown, herself a convert, founded a school for Cherokee women and converted dozens of her people to Christianity. Their stories, along with those of dozens of other men and women--from noblewarriors to celebrated authors--are masterfully woven into this vivid, wide-ranging survey of Native American history and religion.


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Native Americans practice some of America's most spiritually profound, historically resilient, and ethically demanding religions. Joel Martin draws his narrative from folk stories, rituals, and even landscapes to trace the development of Native American religion from ancient burial mounds, through interactions with European conquerors and missionaries, and on to the modern Native Americans practice some of America's most spiritually profound, historically resilient, and ethically demanding religions. Joel Martin draws his narrative from folk stories, rituals, and even landscapes to trace the development of Native American religion from ancient burial mounds, through interactions with European conquerors and missionaries, and on to the modern-day rebirth of ancient rites and beliefs. The book depicts the major cornerstones of American Indian history and religion--the vast movements for pan-Indian renewal, the formation of the Native American Church in 1919, the passage of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act of 1990, and key political actions involving sacred sites in the 1980s and '90s. Martin explores the close links between religion and Native American culture and history. Legendary chiefs like Osceola and Tecumseh led their tribes in resistance movements against the European invaders, inspired by prophets like the Shawnee Tenskwatawa and the Mohawk Coocoochee. Catharine Brown, herself a convert, founded a school for Cherokee women and converted dozens of her people to Christianity. Their stories, along with those of dozens of other men and women--from noblewarriors to celebrated authors--are masterfully woven into this vivid, wide-ranging survey of Native American history and religion.

30 review for The Land Looks After Us: A History of Native American Religion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Martin's overview of Native American religion is sufficient for exposing the ongoing dismemberment of Native American culture (and religion) and it adequately reveals the stakes of that dismemberment: to erase or suppress Native American religion is to stamp out the soul of all of Native American life. The entire book rests on the obliteration of the distinction between sacred and profane in Indigenous culture, which is perhaps a useful move in examining non-Native practice as well. Martin gives Martin's overview of Native American religion is sufficient for exposing the ongoing dismemberment of Native American culture (and religion) and it adequately reveals the stakes of that dismemberment: to erase or suppress Native American religion is to stamp out the soul of all of Native American life. The entire book rests on the obliteration of the distinction between sacred and profane in Indigenous culture, which is perhaps a useful move in examining non-Native practice as well. Martin gives in-depth, vibrant examples to illustrate the condition of Native American struggle for the protection of the free exercise of religion which they are due, but is perhaps a bit clunky in the layout of the work. He flits from one example to the next throughout the entire book, but gives little of the actual histories of the many many nations that he mentions. To his credit, an in-depth history is impossible in less than 150 pages, and it's a valiant effort to start the conversation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sam Myers

    I don’t have a ton to say on this book, but I noticed that a few of the negative reviews here focus on the lack of depth, especially when it comes to detailed expositions of Native American belief systems. I think these reviews are missing the point a bit - this book is a *history* of Native American religion, not a systematic theology. As a short introduction to the beliefs of an incredibly diverse collection of societies and the practices that go along with them (and, lest we forget, vice vers I don’t have a ton to say on this book, but I noticed that a few of the negative reviews here focus on the lack of depth, especially when it comes to detailed expositions of Native American belief systems. I think these reviews are missing the point a bit - this book is a *history* of Native American religion, not a systematic theology. As a short introduction to the beliefs of an incredibly diverse collection of societies and the practices that go along with them (and, lest we forget, vice versa), I thought this was pretty decent. For more, well, we should probably look for a book that’s more than 140 pages long.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thom Coté

    An informative survey but doesn't go into enough depth on any particular topic to be very interesting. Somehow the whole book reads like a college essay. Since he refers to Native Americans as "they" I'm assuming Martin is not Native American; the fact that it's an outside-looking-in perspective is offputting. An informative survey but doesn't go into enough depth on any particular topic to be very interesting. Somehow the whole book reads like a college essay. Since he refers to Native Americans as "they" I'm assuming Martin is not Native American; the fact that it's an outside-looking-in perspective is offputting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    WAYNE DIAMOND

    While this book does give us some insight into the Native Americans religion. It almost seems the Native American religion comparatively speaking to its indoctrination with Christianity. The foundation of the origin and details in Native American beliefs and practices is not as strong and lacking.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Ashley

    Liked the Native American creation myths, but wish there were more about their belief systems. It focuses too much on incorporating specific examples from tribes rather than giving an overview of their their beliefs. Flips back and forth between examples too often; makes for a cumbersome read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kyri

  7. 4 out of 5

    Authentikate

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maritza

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laetitia

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jana

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christina Terranova

  15. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Soker

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian Souza

  17. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Sparrow

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kayla DeVault

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nixie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Martin Jones

  21. 4 out of 5

    SP Drewry

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Tilden

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kylee Gee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Josh Cutts

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nat

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenwhitson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

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