Sa­cred In­struc­tions: Indige­nous Wis­dom for Liv­ing Spirit-based Change

Sherri Mitchell

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction / Adult Nonfiction -

North At­lantic Books (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $17.95 (240pp) 978-1-62317-195-7 This will be a re­ward­ing book for any­one look­ing for a way to en­gage in less con­flict-based, more ef­fec­tive com­mu­nity change.

Lawyer and ac­tivist Sherri Mitchell was raised on a Penob­scot reser­va­tion in Maine. She trans­lates years of ed­u­ca­tion and spir­i­tual in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a call for ac­tion in Sa­cred In­struc­tions: Indige­nous Wis­dom for Liv­ing Spirit-based Change.

The book ex­plores thou­sands of years of his­tory and ac­cu­mu­lated wis­dom from indige­nous peo­ple, prin­ci­pally from the Amer­i­cas, and of­fers lessons for trans­form­ing the in­ter­re­lated so­ci­etal and en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems of mod­ern society. Her dis­cus­sion of the dif­fer­ent val­ues held by Euro-amer­i­can and indige­nous cul­tures is par­tic­u­larly il­lu­mi­nat­ing.

While themes are sweep­ing, Mitchell deftly and pa­tiently de­con­structs “the way­ward path” that pa­tri­ar­chal, colo­nial, and elite sys­tems of so­cial con­trol have forced across the globe, bring­ing us all to our eco­log­i­cal tip­ping point. She writes clearly and with pas­sion, but also with em­pa­thy for those who are op­pres­sors, writ­ing that we all carry deep spir­i­tual wounds born from gen­er­a­tions of vi­o­lence and di­vi­sive­ness.

This re­fresh­ing re­straint from vil­lainiz­ing “op­po­nents” and puff­ing up with self-right­eous­ness keeps Mitchell’s mes­sage on point and ap­pro­pri­ately in tune with her over­all mes­sage of com­pas­sion­ate, heart-based com­mu­nity change.

Prose is punc­tu­ated with per­sonal anec­dotes, Na­tive Amer­i­can mythol­ogy, and in­spi­ra­tional quotes from thinkers and chang­ers from many cul­tural tra­di­tions and eras. At times it even soars into the po­etic, as when she de­scribes how pow­er­ful and needed fem­i­nine nur­tur­ing abil­i­ties are: “Women pos­sess a unique magic. As women, we are able to call forth life from the

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