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Teaching SpiritsUnderstanding Native American Religious Traditions$
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Joseph Epes Brown

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195138757.001.0001

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Teaching Spirits

Joseph Epes Brown

Emily Cousins

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the growing interest in Native North American heritage among both Native and non-Native Americans alike. Underlying many Native Americans' renewed interest in their own traditions is their increasing disenchantment with a society that for centuries has been presented as the ultimate model of true civilization. Paralleling the disenchantment of Native Americans is the non-Native Americans' questioning of many of the basic premises of their own civilization. The chapter highlights some problems that can arise when non-Natives attempt to adopt Native American traditions without fully understanding them. It also argues that approaches taken to Native American religious traditions should be rigorous and scholarly in the best Western sense. But, in addition to such reification of the subject, it is also essential to understand these traditions as they are lived by human individuals.

Keywords:   Native American tradition, non-Native Americans, religious traditions, religion, culture

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