The Soul of the Indian by Charles Alexander (Ohiyesa) Eastman

By Charles Alexander (Ohiyesa) Eastman

Raised one of the Sioux till the age of 15, Charles Alexander Eastman (1858–1939) resolved to develop into a doctor for you to be of the best carrier to his humans. Upon finishing his schooling at Boston collage university of medication, he authorized an appointment to a South Dakota Indian reservation, the place he was once the single general practitioner to be had to the sufferers of the 1890 bloodbath at Wounded Knee. With the encouragement of his spouse, he additional wonderful himself either as a author and as a uniquely certified interpreter of local American methods. His writings provide actual, occasionally stirring perspectives of an international that has ceaselessly changed.
In The Soul of the Indian, Eastman brings to lifestyles the wealthy spirituality and morality of the local american citizens as they existed ahead of touch with missionaries and different whites. this can be a infrequent firsthand expression of local faith, with no the filters imposed by way of translators or anthropologists. instead of a systematic treatise, Eastman has written a ebook, "as precise as i will be able to make it to my youth educating and ancestral beliefs, yet from the human, no longer the ethnological standpoint." His discussions of the different types of ceremonial and symbolic worship, the unwritten scriptures, and the spirit international emphasize the common caliber and private charm of local American religion.

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Nevertheless, he recognizes rights in property. To steal from one of his own tribe would be indeed disgrace, and if discovered, the name of "Wamanon," or Thief, is fixed upon him forever as an unalterable stigma. The only exception to the rule is in the case of food, which is always free to the hungry if there is none by to offer it. Other protection than the moral law there could not be in an Indian community, where there were neither locks nor doors, and everything was open and easy of access to all comers.

As a child, I understood how to give; I have forgotten that grace since I became civilized. I lived the natural life, whereas I now live the artificial. Any pretty pebble was valuable to me then; every growing tree an object of reverence. Now I worship with the white man before a painted landscape whose value is estimated in dollars! Thus the Indian is reconstructed, as the natural rocks are ground to powder, and made into artificial blocks which may be built into the walls of modern society. The first American mingled with his pride a singular humility.

When she fell, the whole race fell with her. Before this calamity came upon us, you could not find anywhere a happier home than that created by the Indian woman. There was nothing of the artificial about her person, and very little disingenuousness in her character. Her early and consistent training, the definiteness of her vocation, and, above all, her profoundly religious attitude gave her a strength and poise that could not be overcome by any ordinary misfortune. Indian names were either characteristic nicknames given in a playful spirit, deed names, birth names, or such as have a religious and symbolic meaning.

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