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Light on the Indian World - hardcover of the 1st edition
This site includes Light on the Indian World - hardcover of the 1st edition’s pictures, slideshows, excerpts, reviews, table of contents, and more.
Light on the Indian World: The Essential Writings of Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) - hardcover
Light on the Indian World: The Essential Writings of Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) - hardcover
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Author(s): 
Subjects(s): 
American Indian

Price:  $14.95

ISBN:  0-941532-35-6
Book Size:  6" x 9"
# of Pages:  240
Language:  English



Description
(This is the hardcover version of the first edition. For the expanded and revised paperback edition, click here).

"It is a small miracle that these important spiritual teachings have been preserved for us."
James Trosper, Shoshone Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief

"This work is a gift of major proportion, to a world in need of gifts, especially those spirirtual."
Janine Pease Pretty On Top



This book combines for the first time the most important writings of Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman), the first Native American author to live simultaneously in both the traditional world of the Santee Sioux and the modern civilization of the white man. Ohiyesa's works represent the most complete explanation of the philosophy and moral code of the Plains Indian. Providing much of the basis of our knowledge of their sacred world view in which 'we are all related', they sound a profoundly spiritual note which speaks directly to the ecological crisis and the de-humanization of man so often discussed in our time. On a deeper level, Ohiyesa's message speaks to every person who seeks a spiritual way in the midst of a society increasingly dominated by materialism and industrial technology.

It was around the turn of the Twentieth Century that he wrote, "It is my personal belief, after thirty-five years' experience of it, that there is no such thing as 'Christian civilization.' I believe that Christianity and modern civilization are opposed and irreconcilable, and that the spirit of Christianity and of our ancient religion is essentially the same."
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Detailed Description of Light on the Indian World - hardcover of the 1st edition

This is the original edition of the book,
now at a reduced price for purchases on this website.

For the expanded and revised edition, in paperback, click here
.



"It is a small miracle that these important spiritual teachings have been preserved for us."
James Trosper, Shoshone Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief

"This work is a gift of major proportion, to a world in need of gifts, especially those spirirtual."
Janine Pease Pretty On Top



This book combines for the first time the most important writings of Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman), the first Native American author to live simultaneously in both the traditional world of the Santee Sioux and the modern civilization of the white man. Ohiyesa's works represent the most complete explanation of the philosophy and moral code of the Plains Indian. Providing much of the basis of our knowledge of their sacred world view in which 'we are all related', they sound a profoundly spiritual note which speaks directly to the ecological crisis and the de-humanization of man so often discussed in our time. On a deeper level, Ohiyesa's message speaks to every person who seeks a spiritual way in the midst of a society increasingly dominated by materialism and industrial technology.

It was around the turn of the Twentieth Century that he wrote, "It is my personal belief, after thirty-five years' experience of it, that there is no such thing as 'Christian civilization.' I believe that Christianity and modern civilization are opposed and irreconcilable, and that the spirit of Christianity and of our ancient religion is essentially the same."

Ohiyesa's prophetic voice speaks now across three centuries with an urgency which is still fresh and original. Not only should students of Native American philosophy carefully read this book, it should be essential reading for all people who search the ancient worlds for light to better understand the problems which press upon us today.


About the Author(s)

Charles Eastman

Ohiyesa, also known as Charles Alexander Eastman, was the first great American Indian author, publishing 11 books from 1902 until 1918. In his later adult life he was the foremost Indian spokesman of his day and his contributions to our understanding of the American Indian philosophy and religion are so significant that at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, Ohiyesa was presented a special medal honoring the most distinguished achievements by an American Indian.

World Wisdom has published The Essential Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa): Light on the Indian World, a selection of some of the best writings of Charles Eastman gathered from many of his books. Other materials on this web site include a slideshow, Who was Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa)? and a bibliography of Charles Eastman's 11 books.

Click here for more information

Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald is an author, editor, and publisher of books on world religions, sacred art, tradition, culture, and philosophy. He has written and edited many publications on American Indian spirituality, including Yellowtail: Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief, and was adopted into Yellowtail's tribe and family. Fitzgerald has also taught university classes on religious traditions of North American Indians and lectured widely. His contributions to World Wisdom books and DVDs include:

Edited/Authored   Co-edited (with Judith Fitzgerald):   DVD projects:
   

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Janine Pease

Dr. Janine Pease is a renowned American Indian educator and advocate. Amongst other achievements, she was the founding president of the Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency Montana, a past president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, a director of the American Indian College Fund, and was appointed by President Clinton to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. She is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, Montana. Janine Pease is a Crow and Hidatsa Indian, enrolled as a Crow.

Dr. Pease's contributions to World Wisdom projects include:


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Reviews of Light on the Indian World - hardcover of the 1st edition

"Light on the Indian World, gives first person narrative to the life of the Dakota, as if you had just been there. Eastman's voice is unfettered by the bias of "hindsight" or values laden from other times or faiths. This work is a gift of major proportion, to a world in need of gifts, especially those spiritual."

Janine Pease Pretty On Top



"In the process of bridging the gap between the traditional Indian world ofhis youth and the white world of his adult life, Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman) managed to preserve the teachings of his forefathers; lessons today's world needs and thirsts for. It is a small miracle that these important spiritual teachings have been preserved for us.

In its efforts to include American Indians in the "melting pot," the United States Government nearly destroyed a way of life. Much of what we learn about American Indian spirituality today must be interpreted through the often imperfect efforts of non-Indians. Learning from Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman) is learning from the source."

James Trosper, Shoshone Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief



"It is a remarkable publication"

Richard West, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian




“Michael Fitzgerald has captured the essence of Charles Eastman’s writings, focusing on selections from his four best books…Eastman’s words provide his important views regarding Indian and white relations.”

Prof. Raymond Wilson - Fort Hayes State University


Light on the Indian World is the only modern collection of Eastman’s most important writings, and Fitzgerald edited it with a careful attention to the complex deployments Eastman made of his various identities as well as a sympathetic ear to Eastman’s voice, aspirations, and frustrations.”

Prof. Stephen Brandon - University of New Mexico


Light on the Indian World is a fascinating, engaging, informative and memorable addition to personal, academic, and community library Native American Studies supplemental reading lists and academic reference collections. Five Stars.” (highest rating)

Midwest Book Review


“A powerful and eye-opening look at the Native American life… This is a fascinating book; it will not only teach readers about the lost civilization of Native Americans, it will also instill in them respect and awe for the entire Indian race.”

Forewordreviews.com



“I am successfully using Light On The Indian World as a supplemental text in my Intellectual Heritage classes. Michael O. Fitzgerald’s choices represent the pinnacle of Eastman’s intent to enlighten and harmonize the disparate elements of these two diametrically opposed, yet convergent cultures: Native America and post-Colonial Civilization. I sincerely recommend Light On The Indian World for any educator or interdisciplinary course in which critical comprehension of pan-historic and multi-cultural ideology is vital.”

Gerald Musinsky - Temple University


Table of Contents for Light on the Indian World - hardcover of the 1st edition

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Selections from the Soul of the Indian
  • Foreword
  • The Great Mystery
  • The Family Altar
  • Ceremonial and Symbolic Worship
  • Barbarism and the Moral Code
  • The Unwritten Scriptures
  • On the Border-land of Spirits
  • Selections from The Indian Today
  • The Indian as He Was
  • The How and Why of the Indian Wars
  • The New Indian Policy
  • The Indian at Home
  • The Indian as a Citizen
  • Native Arts and Industries
  • The Indian’s Gifts to the Nation
  • Selections from Indian Boyhood
  • Earliest Recollections
  • Early Hardships
  • An Indian Boy’s Training
  • My Plays and Playmates
  • Hakadah’s First Offering
  • Evening in the Lodge
  • The Maiden’s Feast
  • Indian Life and Adventure
  • Selections from From the Deep Woods to Civilization
  • The Way Opens
  • My First School Days
  • On the White Man’s Trail
  • College Life in the West
  • College Life in the East
  • A Doctor Among the Indians
  • The Ghost Dance War
  • War with the Politicians
  • Civilization as Preached and Practiced
  • At the Nation’s Capital
  • Back to the Woods
  • The Soul of the White Man

  • Biographical Notes
  • Photographs


Excerpts from Light on the Indian World - hardcover of the 1st edition

This excerpt is originally from Eastman’s The Soul of the Indian:

The Great Mystery


Solitary Worship. The Savage Philosopher. The Dual Mind. Spiritual
Gifts versus Material Progress. The Paradox of “Christian Civilization”


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. To him it was the supreme conception, bringing with it the fullest measure of joy and satisfaction possible in this life.
The worship of the “Great Mystery” was silent, solitary, free from all self-seeking. It was silent, because all speech is of necessity feeble and imperfect; therefore the souls of my ancestors ascended to God in wordless adoration. It was solitary, because they believed that He is nearer to us in solitude, and there were no priests authorized to come between a man and his Maker. None might exhort or confess or in any way meddle with the religious experience of another. Among us all men were created sons of God and stood erect, as conscious of their divinity. Our faith might not be formulated in creeds, nor forced upon any who were unwilling to receive it; hence there was no preaching, proselytizing, nor persecution, neither were there any scoffers or atheists.
There were no temples or shrines among us save those of nature. Being a natural man, the Indian was intensely poetical. He would deem it sacrilege to build a house for Him who may be met face to face in the mysterious, shadowy aisles of the primeval forest, or on the sunlit bosom of virgin prairies, upon dizzy spires and pinnacles of naked rock, and yonder in the jeweled vault of the night sky! He who enrobes Himself in filmy veils of cloud, there on the rim of the visible world where our Great-Grandfather Sun kindles his evening campfire, He who rides upon the rigorous wind of the north, or breathes forth His spirit upon aromatic southern airs, whose war-canoe is launched upon majestic rivers and inland seas— He needs no lesser cathedral!
That solitary communion with the Unseen which was the highest expression of our religious life is partly described in the word hambeday, literally “mysterious feeling,” which has been variously translated “fasting” and “dreaming.” It may better be interpreted as “consciousness of the divine.”
The first hambeday, or religious retreat, marked an epoch in the life of the youth, which may be compared to that of confirmation or conversion in Christian experience. Having first prepared himself by means of the purifying sweat lodge, and cast off as far as possible all human fleshly influences, the young man sought out the noblest height, the most commanding summit in all the surrounding region. Knowing that God sets no value upon material things, he took with him no offerings or sacrifices other than symbolic objects, such as paints and tobacco. Wishing to appear before Him in all humility, he wore no clothing save his moccasins and breechclout. At the solemn hour of sunrise or sunset he took up his position, overlooking the glories of earth and facing the “Great Mystery,” and there he remained, naked, erect, silent, and motionless, exposed to the elements and forces of His arming, for a night and a day to two days and nights, but rarely longer. Sometimes he would chant a hymn without words, or offer the ceremonial “filled pipe.” In this holy trance or ecstasy the Indian mystic found his highest happiness and the motive power of his existence.
When he returned to the camp, he must remain at a distance until he had again entered the sweat lodge and prepared himself for intercourse with his fellows. Of the vision or sign vouchsafed to him he did not speak, unless it had included some commission which must be publicly fulfilled. Sometimes an old man, standing upon the brink of eternity, might reveal to a chosen few the oracle of his long-past youth.
The native American has been generally despised by his white conquerors for his poverty and simplicity. They forget, perhaps, that his religion forbade the accumulation of wealth and the enjoyment of luxury. To him, as to other single-minded men in every age and race, from Diogenes to the brothers of Saint Francis, from the Montanists to the Shakers, the love of possessions has appeared a snare, and the burdens of a complex society a source of needless peril and temptation. Furthermore, it was the rule of his life to share the fruits of his skill and success with his less fortunate brothers. Thus he kept his spirit free from the clog of pride, cupidity, or envy, and carried out, as he believed, the divine decree—a matter profoundly important to him.
It was not, then, wholly from ignorance or improvidence that he failed to establish permanent towns and to develop a material civilization. To the untutored sage, the concentration of population was the prolific mother of all evils, moral no less than physical. He argued that food is good, while surfeit kills; that love is good, but lust destroys; and not less dreaded than the pestilence following upon crowded and unsanitary dwellings was the loss of spiritual power inseparable from too close contact with one’s fellow-men. All who have lived much out of doors know that there is a magnetic and nervous force that accumulates in solitude and that is quickly dissipated life in a crowd; and even his enemies have recognized the fact that for a certain innate power and selfpoise, wholly independent of circumstances, the American Indian is unsurpassed among men.
The red man divided mind into two parts,—the spiritual mind and the physical mind. The first is pure spirit, concerned only with the essence of things, and it was this he sought to strengthen by spiritual prayer, during which the body is subdued by fasting and hardship. In this type of prayer there was no beseeching favor or help. All matters of personal or selfish concern, as success in hunting or warfare, relief from sickness, or the sparing of a beloved life, were definitely relegated to the plane of the lower or material mind, and all ceremonies, charms, or incantations designed to secure a benefit or to avert a danger, were recognized as emanating from the physical self.
The rites of this physical worship, again, were wholly symbolic, and the Indian no more worshiped the Sun than the Christian adores the Cross. The Sun and the Earth, by an obvious parable, holding scarcely more of poetic metaphor than of scientific truth, were in his view the parents of all organic life. From the Sun, as the universal father, proceeds the quickening principle in nature, and in the patient and fruitful womb of our mother, the Earth, are hidden embryos of plants and men. Therefore our reverence and love for them was really an imaginative extension of our love for our immediate parents, and with this sentiment of filial piety was joined a willingness to appeal to them, as to a father, for such good gifts as we may desire. This is the material or physical prayer.
The elements and majestic forces in nature, Lightning, Wind, Water, Fire, and Frost, were regarded with awe as spiritual powers, but always secondary and intermediate in character. We believed that the spirit pervades all creation and that every creature possesses a soul in some degree, though not necessarily a soul conscious of itself. The tree, the waterfall, the grizzly bear, each is an embodied Force, and as such an object of reverence.
The Indian loved to come into sympathy and spiritual communion with his brothers of the animal kingdom, whose inarticulate souls had for him something of the sinless purity that we attribute to the innocent and irresponsible child. He had faith in their instincts, as in a mysterious wisdom given from above; and while he humbly accepted the supposedly voluntary sacrifice of their bodies to preserve his own, he paid homage to their spirits in prescribed prayers and offerings.
In every religion there is an element of the supernatural, varying with the influence of pure reason over its devotees. The Indian was a logical and clear thinker upon matters within the scope of his understanding, but he had not yet charted the vast field of nature or expressed her wonders in terms 6 Light on the Indian World of science. With his limited knowledge of cause and effect, he saw miracles on every hand,—the miracle of life in seed and egg, the miracle of death in lightning flash and in the swelling deep! Nothing of the marvelous could astonish him; as that a beast should speak, or the sun stand still. The virgin birth would appear scarcely more miraculous than is the birth of every child that comes into the world, or the miracle of the loaves and fishes excite more wonder than the harvest that springs from a single ear of corn.
Who may condemn his superstition? Surely not the devout Catholic even Protestant missionary, who teaches Bible miracles as literal fact! The logical man must either deny all miracles or none, and our American Indian myths and hero stories are perhaps, in themselves, quite as credible as those of the Hebrews of old. If we are of the spiritual type of mind, that sees in natural law a majesty and grandeur far more impressive than any solitary infraction of it could possibly be, let us not forget that, after all, science has not explained everything. We have still to face the ultimate miracle, —the origin and principle of life! Here is the supreme mystery that is the essence of worship, without which there can be no religion, and in the presence of this mystery our attitude cannot be very unlike that of the natural philosopher, who beholds with awe the Divine in all creation.
It is simple truth that the Indian did not, so long as his native philosophy held sway over his mind, either envy or desire to imitate the splendid achievements of the white man. In his own thought he rose superior to them! He scorned them, even as a lofty spirit absorbed in its stern task rejects the soft beds, the luxurious food, the pleasure-worshiping dalliance of a rich neighbor. It was clear to him that virtue and happiness are independent of these things, if not incompatible with them.
There was undoubtedly much in primitive Christianity to appeal to this man, and Jesus’ hard sayings to the rich and about the rich would have been entirely comprehensible to him. Yet the religion that is preached in our churches and practiced by our congregations, with its element of display and self-aggrandizement, its active proselytism, and its open contempt of all religions but its own, was for a long time extremely repellent. To his simple mind, the professionalism of the pulpit, the paid exhorter, the moneyed church, was an unspiritual and unedifying thing, and it was not until his spirit was broken and his moral and physical constitution undermined by trade, conquest, and strong drink, that Christian missionaries obtained any real hold upon him. Strange as it may seem, it is true that the proud pagan in his secret soul despised the good men who came to convert and to enlighten him!
Nor were its publicity and its Phariseeism the only elements in the alien religion that offended the red man. To him, it appeared shocking and almost incredible that there were among this people who claimed superiority many irreligious, who did not even pretend to profess the national faith. Not only did they not profess it, but they stooped so low as to insult their God with profane and sacrilegious speech! In our own tongue His name was not spoken aloud, even with utmost reverence, much less lightly or irreverently.
More than this, even in those white men who professed religion we found much inconsistency of conduct. They spoke much of spiritual things, while seeking only the material. They bought and sold everything, labor, personal independence, the love of woman, and even the ministrations of their holy faith! The lust for money, power, and conquest so characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race did not escape moral condemnation at the hands of his untutored judge, nor did he fail to contrast this conspicuous trait of the dominant race with the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus.
He might in time come to recognize that the drunkards and licentious among white men, with whom he too frequently came in contact, were condemned by the white man’s religion as well, and must not be held to discredit it. But it was 8 Light on the Indian World not so easy to overlook or to excuse national bad faith. When distinguished emissaries from the Father at Washington, some of them ministers of the gospel and even bishops, came to the Indian nations, and pledged to them in solemn treaty the national honor, with prayer and mention of their God; and when such treaties, so made, were promptly and shamelessly broken, is it strange that the action should arouse not only anger, but contempt? The historians of the white race admit that the Indian was never the first to repudiate his oath.
It is my personal belief, after thirty-five years’ experience of it, that there is no such thing as “Christian Civilization.” I believe that Christianity and modern civilization are opposed and irreconcilable, and that the spirit of Christianity and of our ancient religion is essentially the same.


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