Yellowtail, Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief: An Autobiography Paperback – 1 Apr 1994
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About the Author
Yellowtail was a medicine man and Sun Dance cheif. Thomas was the principal figure in the Crow-Shoshone Sun Dance Religion during the last half of the 20th century. He was one of the most admired American Indian spiritual leaders of the last century.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book fits neither category, and points out the huge dearth of factual, authentic, detailed information about Native American traditions, from the viewpoints of the practitioners themselves in their own words. It is the biography of a traditional Native American healer and leader of their sundance religion. Yellowtail shares a lot of information about the purpose and preparation of the sundance and other major and minor practices that I had not come across before. It really helps the reader understand that daily prayer and practices form a huge part of traditional Native American spiritual life, much more so than suggested by the myriad works of nonpractitioners.
At times, the description of life before being forced onto reservations seems too good to be true. But nostalgia being an apparently universal human quality, the perhaps overglorification of a lifestyle Yellowtail never lived (he was born on a reservation) can be easily overlooked. The focus of the book is largely the actual experiences of Yellowtail, and they are quite illuminating. It is the spiritual counterpoint to "Cheyenne Memories" by John Stands in Timber.
Almost more importantly, the book describes how the Crow tribe recovered some of it's spiritual practices such as the details of having a sundance ceremony, from the medicine man of the Shoshone tribe, John Trehero. Due to repressive US government policies, some tribes lost the lineage of successive teaching of their spiritual traditions. The all-important one-on-one instruction from teacher to student was lost within those tribes.
The description of a sundance reintroduced and growing to the point where a larger than usual lodge had to be built to accommodate all the dancers, is a wonderful accomplishment. It leaves the reader with a sense of hope that these vitally important traditions, and the understanding they generate of the importance of working and praying together to accomplish the good of the tribe, and therefore the rest of the world, will continue to grow and flourish with succeeding generations.
The western industrialized nations are using (abusing) natural resources at a rate far exceeding the capacity of nature to replenish them, all in the name of greed. And the root cause of this is believing the Earth, and all of the growing things on it to be inanimate objects, things, rather than the living, sentient beings that they are. As long as the belief system of those in power and the millions who put them there sees the natural resources of the Earth as things rather than beings, life for all of us is imperiled. But if the sundance religion and other Earth-honoring religions continue to grow and thrive, there is yet hope left.
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