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The soul of the Indian : an interpretation…

The soul of the Indian : an interpretation (original 1911; edition 1980)

by Charles Alexander Eastman

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Title:The soul of the Indian : an interpretation
Authors:Charles Alexander Eastman
Info:Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980, c1911. xiii, 170 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
Collections:Your library
Tags:Spirituality Philosophy & Psychology

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The Soul of the Indian: An Interpretation by Charles Alexander Eastman (1911)



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Charles Eastman was a native American who was taught in white schools in the early part of the last century.

His purpose in life was to communicate just what the American Indian believed. In this book he showed the values of the Indian *before* he was essentially spiritually polluted by the white invasion of his world.
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  Benedict8 | Jul 16, 2014 |
This is definitely an interesting book and an important accounting for traditions of the Sioux. Yet it is done from a perspective "after the white man's arrival." And this leads to my conclusion that Mr. Eastman's histrionics are putting an acceptable slant on this Native American's culture.

Essentially The Soul of the Indian is a comparison of Sioux religiosity to Christianity. Self-admittedly, the author explains the basis of Indian culture and religion is the antithesis of Biblical religion. Yet he then proceeds to find similarities of varying proportion. He extolls the virtue of Indian religion and expresses disdain for the materialism or monetarism of Christianity.

Mr. Eastman takes time to include a section on familiar hierarchy and societal culture. One aspect I found suspect was his play down of the warrior culture. Understanding this book was written after the segregation of Indians to reservations Mr. Eastman likely tempered this profile of his people, in an effort to "humanize" the Native Americans.

Hence, I sensed that while the author was conveying his culture to white man, he was simultaneously trying to raise the Sioux religion to the level he perceives Christianity. Struggling to veil his contempt for Christianity but fully cognizant that his target audience was Americans, he paints the Sioux as simply a different strain of Christianity.

Blaming some of the misconceptions and alterations of long-standing cultural modalities on arrival of the White, this book needs to be read with a grain of salt. Granted his interpretations may be truly a perspective free of my suspected distortion towards his audience, the same caution afforded to autobiographies applies to this first-person defense of culture and religion. ( )
  HistReader | Dec 30, 2013 |
Very quick read and an extremely simplified account of Sioux religious practices that the author a Sioux himself applied to all Native American cultures. All cultures are not a like and this painting with such a broad brush does not do justice to the other cultures who practiced religion different than the Sioux. It is still an enlightening book on the practice of having a very personal type of religion that does not rely on someone between you and your Lord ( )
  cwflatt | Jul 1, 2012 |
simply marvelous! Short book outlining not just one man's integration between his experience with Sioux spirituality and his Christian faith. The way Baptism and the Eucharist were reimaged into the Native American culture was truly refreshing. It reminded me of the Christianity's current struggle to integrate and imagine within our current culture. ( )
  revslick | Apr 16, 2012 |
I wanted a book which did not have a Christian theme, and found this little book in the Religious section at Project Gutenburg: The Soul of the Indian by Charles Alexander Eastman. It was published in 1911, and is an overview of some of the religious customs of the 'Indians' written by a Sioux who was raised in his native traditions, but later educated at Dartmouth and Boston University. This was an interesting book, as the author tried to separate the later traditions of his people from those they held before the white man came and corrupted them. The author is able, in the beginning of the book, to portray the beauty and peace of his people's silent and solitary communion with "the great mystery". ( )
  lisalouhoo | Feb 17, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Alexander Eastmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eastman, Charles AlexanderAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kölbl, Andrea PiaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kozljanič, Robert JosefTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my wife Elaine Goodale Eastman in grateful recognition of her ever-inspiring companionship in thought and work and in love of her most Indian-like virtues I dedicate this book
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The original attitude of the American Indian toward the Eternal, the "Great Mystery," that surrounds and embraces us, was as simple as it was exalted.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803267010, Paperback)

Charles Alexander Eastman (1858-1939) was a mixed-blood Sioux. His maternal grandmother, daughter of Chief Cloudman of the Mdewankton Sioux, was married to a well-known western artist, Captain Seth Eastman, and in 1847 their daughter Mary Nancy Eastman became the wife of Chief Many Lightnings, a Wahpeton Sioux. Their fifth child, Charles Alexander Eastman, as a four-year old was given the name Ohiyesa (the Winner). During the Sioux Uprising of 1862 Ohiyesa became separated from his father—his mother had died soon after his birth-and fled from the reservation in Minnesota to Canada under the protection of his grandmother and uncle. There he was schooled in the Indian ways until the age of fifteen, when he was reunited with his father, who took him back to his homestead in present South Dakota.

Eastman went on to become one of the best-known Indians of his time, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Dartmouth in 1887 and a medical degree from Boston University three years later. From his first appointment as a physician at Pine Ridge Agency, where he witnessed the events that culminated in the Wounded Knee massacre, he sought to bring understanding between Native and non-Native Americans. In addition to two autobiographical works, Indian Boyhood (1902) and From the Deep Woods to Civilization (1916), Charles Eastman wrote nine other books, some in collaboration with his wife, Elaine Goodale Eastman (who has told her story in Sister to the Sioux, also a Bison Book).

In The Soul of the Indian, first published in 1911, the author's aim has been "to paint the religious life of the typical American Indian as it was before he knew the white man."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Charles Alexander Eastman, an educated and well-known Sioux, saw both sides of the great divide between Indians and whites, and he wrote eleven books attempting to reconcile the two cultures. Although he was a convert to Christianity, Eastman never lost his sense of the wholeness and beauty of the Indian's relation to his existence and to the natural world. These six essays on the Indian's spiritual beliefs and cultural habits, told in very personal terms and coupled with seven folk tales, illuminate the high ethics and morality of a culture that few people know about. The six essays are: ?The Great Mystery,? ?The Family Altar,? ?Ceremonial and Symbolic Worship,? ?Barbarism and the Moral Code,? ?The Unwritten Scriptures,? and ?On the Borderland of Spirits.? The seven Native American tales are: ?The Buffalo and the Field Mouse,? ?The Frogs and the Crane,? ?The Falcon and the Duck,? ?The Raccoon and the Bee Tree,? ?The Comrades,? ?The Runaways,? and ?The Magic Arrows.?… (more)

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