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The Soul of the Indian

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  337 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Raised among the Sioux until the age of 15, Charles Alexander Eastman (1858–1939) resolved to become a physician in order to be of the greatest service to his people. Upon completing his education at Boston University School of Medicine, he accepted an appointment to a South Dakota Indian reservation, where he was the only doctor available to the victims of the 1890 massac ...more
Paperback, 64 pages
Published July 2nd 2003 by Dover Publications (first published January 1st 1911)
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Oct 09, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I recommend this to the general reader as well as those deeply interested in indigenous history and culture. I appreciate the simplicity of the syntax,the occasional poetic expression and even a few quotable phrases. This book I read in under two hours.It is an easy overview of some captivating myths, expressed in a way which will acquaint the reader with the general mindset of the Native American Indian.
Thom Swennes
May 04, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a book by its size. Although The Soul of the Indian by Charles Alexander (Ohiyesa) Eastman only counts sixty-four pages, it relays much about the Sioux Indians both before and after the arrival of Europeans in North America. Many of the general western beliefs about the plains Indians are based more on prejudices than fact. I was surprised by some of these but have no doubt that the book is a truer account than most. History lovers shou ...more
Shoma Patnaik
I strayed off to Project Gutenberg's Native American shelf after I found Navajo Silversmiths on the Art one. I have to say that I'm discovering a whole wealth of excellent reading material here.

This book really spoke to me because of the ideas in it. Ohiyesa, or Charles Eastman states that he hasn't attempted to write a scholarly treatise, merely a recollection of the spirituality of his Sioux roots. I am a little wary of books that attempt to describe Native American spirituality and religion:
Red Haircrow
Dec 23, 2010 Red Haircrow rated it really liked it
As I began to read "The Soul of the Indian" it was like taking a deep breath of relief, because it was as I've been taught and observed. In many ways, it is one of the most accurate accounts in the style and manner of the speaking of elders.

The point about reading books such as these is to put aside one's own beliefs and religious ideas based on one's own culture, and fully step outside to try to understand another people in a new way. Not many people seem to be able to do that, as they limit t
Jan 22, 2009 Lisa added it
I wanted a book which did not have a Christian theme, and found this little book in the Religious section at Project Gutenburg: The Soul of the Indian by Charles Alexander Eastman. It was published in 1911, and is an overview of some of the religious customs of the 'Indians' written by a Sioux who was raised in his native traditions, but later educated at Dartmouth and Boston University. This was an interesting book, as the author tried to separate the later traditions of his people from those t ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read - one of Eastman's last works, it is much more introspective than his previous publications and we really begin to see Eastman's critique of both his worlds begin to emerge in this text. In places, he is quite candid about(then revered) elements of native religious practices and stories that as he rightly points out had been developed as a result of external influences (Christianity). Chapter 3, "Ceremonial and Symbolic Worship" was of particular interest to me in regard to NA ...more
Justin Wiggins
Nov 03, 2014 Justin Wiggins rated it it was amazing
An amazing and sobering read published in 1911 about Sioux Native American culture, philosophy, spirituality, and the struggle between the Native Americans and Europeans. I loved this book, and Charles A.Eastman is now a hero of mine. I really appreciate my Tuscarora Native American heritage! Shalom.
Dec 24, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Awesome little book! Written in 1911 by a man who was raised among his native Sioux until the age of 15, this book is a great account of the American Indians' traditions, beliefs, and lifestyle before being embellished and altered through lore and cultural influence.
Nov 14, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it
Listened to this one on the way to Standing Rock
Eastman tries to bring out what he believes are the salient points in Native American religion vis-a-vis the misrepresentations and misunderstandings by "the white man." Eastman makes some good points regarding the hypocrisy of the white man's Christianity, especially arising out of the expression presented to the Indian that the American government was "Christian." As Eastman says,

"[The Indian:] might in time come to recognize that the drunkards and the licentious among white men, with whom he
Sep 15, 2015 Vaishali rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for all Americans. It reconnected me with the true meaning of living with reverence of Mother Nature and the Universe. We have lost the true meaning of humanity, and Eastman (actual Native given name: Ohíye S’a) illustrates the magic which we have come to live without.

If you choose out of the great fortune of reading this short book, I've copy/pasted an excerpt that encapsulates Eastman's beautiful worldview:

"The Indian loved to come into sympathy and spiritual c
Cj Smith
Nov 11, 2007 Cj Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely, just for history sake
The story was very good but what I really like was in the chapter "The Unwritten Scriptures starting on 119, it takes of a Missionary trying to teach his ways and the Indians listen closely but when they tried to share their ways, as the writer puts it, "But the missionary plainly showed his disgust and disbelief, indignantly saying:--(at his point you need to get the book and read it) because I don't believe we should try to "Force our traditions and ways" on others. Short book but I think you' ...more
Eastman was a mixed breed Sioux. Part reminiscence, part history he champions native americans at a time when Indians were not well regarded. This book focuses on religious traditions. He tries to sort out early practices before missionary and settlers' influences (before the white man). Based on his early experiences and personal knowledge. The Great Mystery (solitary worship), family alter, ceremonial and symbolic worship, moral code, unwritten scriptures, on the boarderland of spirits.
Oct 05, 2011 Carrie rated it really liked it
The author of this book, written in the early 1900s, did a phenomenal job. The text is insightful, interesting, and informative about the ways of the Native Sioux based on the author’s cultural upbringing. Among other things, the subject matter includes the native soul, wisdom, and mysticism, Furthermore, it also touches upon and cultural views and habits such as religion and drinking before and after the white man. There are many great sections to learn and to quote. This is a great starter boo ...more
Joe Savage
Jan 22, 2014 Joe Savage rated it it was amazing
Amazing work written in early 20th century paints a vivid picture of Native American Spirituality. This well educated son and grandson of Native Americans shares his heritage as best as possible but admits to fading knowledge even in the late 19th century with the intrusion of so much Western thought and meddling. Still he sketches fundamentals which stand in stark contrast to what most Americans see as the predominant Judeo-Christian culture.
Jul 20, 2015 Jes rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book, after reading The Captured, I had high hopes of a personalized narrative of a white captive. Instead, I got a whole lot of proselytizing and a narrator trying to reconcile the Indian beliefs with Christianity. While I can appreciate the time period and culture that this was written in (well before The Captured), I feel like this was not an accurate representation of Native American beliefs nor do I feel like those beliefs could be reconciled with Christianity.
Matt Brant
Charles Eastman grew up as a tribal Sioux in the late 19th century but ended up a grad of the BU Medical School. He was best educated Indian of his time and wrote numerous books telling about the culture of Indians. In this short book, he gives a broad overview of the religious and mythical basis for ethical behavior among the Indians. It’s a unique document that readers interested in Sioux myths should read, but keep in mind Eastman was not a historian or ethnographer.
Jul 12, 2010 Benedict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Eastman was a native American who was taught in white schools in the early part of the last century.

His purpose in life was to communicate just what the American Indian believed. In this book he showed the values of the Indian *before* he was essentially spiritually polluted by the white invasion of his world.
Sep 01, 2012 David rated it really liked it
simply marvelous! Short book outlining not just one man's integration between his experience with Sioux spirituality and his Christian faith. The way Baptism and the Eucharist were reimaged into the Native American culture was truly refreshing. It reminded me of the Christianity's current struggle to integrate and reimagine within our current culture.
Jan 14, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book. I liked it because it was very informative. I think the Native American Indian culture is fascinating. This book is about religious practices as the author new about them before the influence of white man. It is not a novel but if you are interested in this subject this would be a good book for you.
Dec 13, 2014 Max rated it really liked it
valuable for it's first hand account, the author is an indian. great for comparison of indian lives versus Christianity. i think that the author's writes "in general" and not specific however. also ecology described here and there which is advanced beyond white culture. life and community perhaps as it should be.
Nov 06, 2015 Jodi rated it liked it
This is a simple book that outlines some Sioux beliefs prior to the coming of the White Man. All I can say is I like a number of these beliefs - God is in everything and solitary time in nature is, accordingly, their form of prayer, less focus on material goods, a sense of helping all in their tribe - and think our world would be better to have them.
Apr 19, 2015 Patty rated it it was amazing
A very interesting perspective on the Indian's ways before the white man infiltrated their culture and what happened to their culture as the white man took them over. I wish he had written so much more detail. I'd like to understand their culture from their perspective so much more and not from the white man's interpretation of their culture.
I found it hard to pay attention as I read this book. However I still feel that it is a good read. I learned a few things which will stay with me forever as I continue to learn more about Native Americans.
Sylvia Hunter
Nov 12, 2014 Sylvia Hunter rated it really liked it
A fascinating first hand account of life growing up in a Sioux community before contact with the white man. The author gives us an understanding of the deep spirituality of the Native American Indian and clears up some misconceptions.
Absorbing and informative.
Jul 23, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book that I use to guide my life. It has a great saying in there where it is talking about Christians. It says how many Christians are so eager to share their religion and keep very little of it for themselves. I found this to be true at times going to Christian college.
Steven Howes
Mar 02, 2010 Steven Howes rated it really liked it
This is a thought provoking book that gives an excellent summary of plains indian spiritual beliefs and contrasts them with christianity and other religions. It is only a little over a hundred pages so one could read it in several hours.
Aug 31, 2011 Meredith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, dads, favorites
from my dad's bookshelf, we shared interest in Native Americans. This copy has a different cover but the isbn matches.

Interesting read so far.

Fast and great read about Native Americans and their views before white man came to their world.
Gregory Ardison-Gardner
Feb 06, 2013 Gregory Ardison-Gardner rated it it was amazing
Bittersweet. An effort by a Native American, who grew up in both the world of the native tribes and the American colonizers, to explain the content and attraction of Indian spirituality, concluding that Christianity and civilization are ultimately incompatible concepts.
Travis Doig
Jun 02, 2015 Travis Doig rated it it was amazing
Classic work on the culture and religion of the Native Americans. I highly recommend this to everyone. There are great pearls of wisdom and great insight into the history of America's original inhabitants. Excellent read!
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(1858-1939) Charles Alexander Eastman is unique among Indian writers, whether storytellers or oral historians. He was raised traditionally, as a Woodland Sioux, by his grandmother, from 1858 - 1874, until he was 15. He thus gained a thorough first-hand knowledge of the lifeways, language, culture, and oral history.

His father (thought to have been hanged at Mankato, Minnesota) reappeared and insis
More about Charles Alexander Eastman...

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“The true Indian sets no price upon either his property or his labor. His generosity is limited only by his strength and ability. He regards it as an honor to be selected for difficult or dangerous service and would think it shameful to ask for any reward, saying rather: "Let the person I serve express his thanks according to his own bringing up and his sense of honor. Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth, and the Great Silence alone!. What is Silence? It is the Great Mystery! The Holy Silence is His voice!” 27 likes
“The logical man must either deny all miracles or none.” 11 likes
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