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Book details
  • Genre:SELF-HELP
  • SubGenre:Personal Growth / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:216
  • Format:Paperback
  • eBook ISBN:9781098350321
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098350604

We Are All Related

Life Lessons From Native American Wisdom

by Larry Shirer

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Overview

This is a book about values, virtues and principles for living. It encourages the reader to reflect on the purpose and meaning of her/his own life, to determine if she/he can see in the values examined something worth emulating. These values and principles are examined in the context of those characteristic of the cultures of the pre-contact Indigenous People of North America. The text attempts to refute the erroneous perceptions and stereotypes about Native Americans by which we have become indoctrinated by literature and movies. It contends that most of the Indigenous People were intelligent, aware, self-sufficient, moral and deeply spiritual human beings who had much to teach White People, but the Whites, convinced of their own superiority, would not listen.

Perhaps there is value in "listening" now. Perhaps by examining the traditional values of these Indigenous Peoples we can learn how to make our lives more meaningful, less stressful, more satisfying, maybe even more spiritual. One of the more unique aspects of traditional Native American cultures is the depth of understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all people and all things. This concept was often expressed with the phrase: "We Are All Related", hence the title.

Description

Why? Why read a book about traditional Native American values? Why should anyone care about what Native Americans thought and did hundreds of years ago? Why think about this subject at all? The answers to these questions, I suggest, are these:

  1. First and foremost, to become motivated to examine and more sharply define the personal values, virtues and principles by which we choose to live our lives; to reflect on the meaning and purpose of our lives and the destiny of humankind. At a time when the people of our country are sharply torn, and the sides actively combative, about issues of race, gender, ethics, morality and the environment, it appears that our culture is sorely in need of more life sustaining and life enhancing values, purpose and direction. It is my hope that, by considering the values and principles espoused and practiced by traditional Native Americans, we can learn something about ourselves and how we should live our lives.

  2. Secondly, to dispel the erroneous perceptions and stereotypes about Native Americans by which we have been indoctrinated by literature and movies, and to enhance our understanding and appreciation of their culture.

The White invaders of this continent thought of, and treated, Native Americans as "ignorant savages". In the early 1500s, there were documented debates in Europe as to whether these "creatures" were in fact human, or some kind of wild beast. The attitude of some was "the only good indian is a dead indian". Some, more benevolent types, believed that is was the White Man's responsibility to: first "civilize" them (teach them to dress, talk, act and think like Whites), and then, "save their souls" by teaching them the "one true religion". In fact, most of the Indigenous People were intelligent, aware, self-sufficient, moral and deeply spiritual human beings who had much to teach Whites. But the Whites, convinced of their own superiority, would not listen. Perhaps there is value in "listening" now.

Perhaps by examining the traditional values and philosophies of these Indigenous Peoples we can learn how to make our lives more meaningful, less stressful, more satisfying, maybe even more spiritual. In our search for useful and meaningful values and principles, one could do worse than to look at those basic to the cultures of those peoples indigenous to this continent. Our culture tends to see differences as a threat. If we can get over that hurdle, understand and appreciate the value of what the Indigenous People had to share, our perspectives may become more life-affirming.

Context
A word about context: I will be focusing on values and virtues developed from the time before Columbus stumbled upon this continent, and the early period of interaction between the two cultures. In discussing culture and spirituality, I will use the past tense, because the views on which I want to focus are those considered "traditional", i. e. those held before the influence of White culture. Some, (a minority of), modern Native Americans attempt to honor these "old ways" today. What we know about these subjects we have learned from modern era descendants who were entrusted with keeping alive the traditions, values and philosophies from that period, as handed down from generation to generation. The descriptions herein should not be construed to represent the views of all modern Native Americans. Geographically, I will focus on North America. I will refer to the pre-contact inhabitants of North America as Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples, or simply as "The People". (None of the names by which we refer to the Native American tribes are names they called themselves. Many of the names by which they referred to themselves translated into English as "The People", or some version thereof). I will refer to the Europeans and their descendants who later occupied the territory as Whites. When speaking of spirituality, I will focus on how religion affects how one lives one's life, not on creeds.

About the author

Larry Shirer – Bio I earned a BBA from Ohio University and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. I have held responsible positions in several companies, including serving as Vice President and General Manager of a $25,000,000 division of a New York Stock Exchange listed company. My career includes two stints with Management Consulting firms, during which I helped owners of small and medium sized businesses improve the performance of their enterprises. Since semi-retiring, I have worked as a commercial real estate broker and have had two previous books printed for family and friends.

Although not Native American, I have had a keen interest in things Native American since childhood. I enjoyed what was billed as a "Total Immersion Experience" on the Sioux Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. The experience included presentations by, and subsequent discussions with, several Native Americans talking about their traditional culture. I visited Native American homes and shared meals, participated in a Sweat Lodge ceremony, observed a Sun Dance ceremony, participated in a contemporary Native American church service and visited the memorial at Wounded Knee. I participated in a program on the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina titled "The Cherokee Full Circle", led by a Cherokee shaman and author. I spent time on the Navajo reservation, talking at random with tribal members about their traditional culture. Reading over sixty books about Native American culture and values has provided a basis for my understanding of Native culture and spirituality.

As a result of making presentations to discussion groups at two different churches, I was invited to give two lectures about Native American spirituality at The College of Wooster Lay Academy of Religion, a multi-week program that has been presented annually for over 50 years. I have a website at www.larryspointstoponder.com, and a blog about Native American Values.

Book Reviews

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Anne
Well organized and readable text There are so many things I love about it – the information, the way it is well organized to be both readable and a reference, and the way it will lead me to further reading. Read more
Ann
This book presents a paradigm for choosing how to live a meaningful life What gives life meaning? How shall we live our lives? To answer these questions, we might do well to examine Native American wisdom and culture. In We Are All Related, Larry Shirer brings to light the sacred worldview of indigenous peoples living on the North American continent prior to white people arriving on its shores. And he explains the principles and values embedded in traditional Native American culture through the words of influential Indian leaders and Caucasians they entrusted to document their values. (The appendices profile these leaders and authors offering the reader interesting accounts of familiar names such as Black Elk, Chief Seattle, Tecumseh, and others.) Shirer’s extensive research focuses on Native American reverence for land, life, and relationships. It fleshes out the concepts “everything is interrelated” and following “The Red Road.” This insightful and accessible book presents a paradigm for choosing how to live a meaningful life. Read more
Casey
Native American Wisdom “In this book, the author has compiled lessons from the wisdom that shaped the way traditional Native Americans lived their lives. He encourages non-Native Americans to appreciate the cultures that practiced these values, and to consider incorporating them into their own lives. Casey Church, Doctor of Intercultural Studies – Fuller Theological Seminary, Member of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Tribe, Missiologist with NAIITS, an Indigenous Learning Community, Author of: HOLY SMOKE, The Contextual Use of Native American Ritual and Ceremony Read more
Ishwar
A Well-Researched Work “WE ARE ALL RELATED is a well-researched work that demonstrates the author’s esteem for Native American culture, challenges the reader to examine his/her personal values and principles for living, and to reevaluate her/his perceptions of Native American cultures and what we might learn from them.” Ishwar Harris Synod Professor of Religious Studies (emeritus) College of Wooster Author of: Gandhians in Contemporary India Read more
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