This book started out strong. It introduced me to a part of the Native American experience I had never accessed before. I learned about various historical facts I had never known, learned about the many - and there are many
- religions scattered across the various tribes of North America. For the first 50% of this book, I was enchanted. I wanted to run out and buy every book on Native American histories, languages and religions that I could.
But then the second half came. The first half is a true introduction to what we're promised in the title: the worldviews of Native Americans.
The second half was just a re-telling of historical facts and figures that I could have read out of any number of history books. These recent historical events did change certain worldviews of the Native Americans, and I'm aware that certain events were crucial to the story. The reader needed to know how Catholicism changed certain Native American religions, they needed to know how the hardships of being a conquered culture has change their perspective as well. What the reader didn't need was one big guilt trip about it.
It's impossible to say that one culture is better than the other. You may think your culture is better because maybe there's less racism or sexism or what-have-you, but it is impossible to compare and judge cultures
because everyone lives in their own reality. The most you can do is be grateful that you are not part of a different culture because you've been conditioned to accept your own. That's it. That's why people say, "I'm so happy I'm not what-or-what" while the people who are what-and-what say, "I'm so happy I'm not that-and-that." It's because what-or-what and that-and-that each have their own cultures and neither is better than the other one.
There is no come-all of cultures. There is no one defining culture that the others are judged by, so it is impossible. I felt as if this book were trying to tell me that the Native Americans' culture was much better than the Western one, and it felt like it was being slammed down my throat.
The fate of what happened to the Native Americans is a sad one. It is a shame they are a conquered culture because they had such beautiful, rich and vibrant life to their own multitude of cultures. It's a shame that the US government nearly decimated them. It's a shame they are conquered and I think this is something that nearly everyone can agree on. I don't need to be reminded of it every chapter. The author warns against making the Native Americans out to be this idyllic culture (because no culture is perfect) and yet that is almost exactly what he is doing.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this. I am sure there are other introductions to Native American cultures and worldviews that are more objective and just as informative. If you are really curious, then I would still recommend the first 50% of this book. It was really fascinating and the author clearly is an expert on the subject.