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The Soul of the Indian

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  77 reviews
In The Soul of the Indian, Eastman brings to life the rich spirituality and morality of the Native Americans as they existed before contact with missionaries and other whites. This is a rare firsthand expression of native religion, without the filters imposed by translators or anthropologists. Rather than a scientific treatise, Eastman has written a book, "as true as I can ...more
Paperback, 64 pages
Published July 2nd 2003 by Dover Publications (first published 1911)
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Oct 09, 2016 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.
Red Haircrow
Dec 23, 2010 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
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading for we Americans, connecting us with reverence for Mother Nature and the Universe. Eastman (actual Native name: Ohíye S’a) illustrates the magic to which we are blind.

If you choose out of the great fortune of experiencing this book, please read this excerpt encapsulating Eastman's beautiful worldview:

"The Indian loved to come into sympathy and spiritual communion with his brothers of the animal kingdom, whose inarticulate souls had for him someth
Thom Swennes
May 04, 2012 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
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:
Teresa Arauco
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Page wise, this should be a short read about customs and religion.

So, (projecting my own mixed feelings about religion) I buckled down, suspended my own socialization and my own colonization (I am American, born in the States, but not white...many do not consider that American at all, but would regard me as "other" and by my ethnic heritage, Peru, South America).

In suspending all that, I was open to what Eastman had to say; how his people regarded each other, life, death, nature, "the Great My
Jan 22, 2009 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 12, 2012 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
Dec 24, 2016 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. ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Boston University trained physician, Eastman presents pre-colonial American culture within the Sioux tribe as a Native himself. He knew God and morality before exposure to Christianity. He saw his religion as spiritual and natural, and the colonial tradition as materialistic and artificial. That is not to say he condemns Jesus, but the so-called followers of Him who professionalized the pulpit and sought to aggrandize an industry with signs of wealth. While the cost to the Natives was much great ...more
Dave Holt
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have a lot of respect for Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman) and many of the messages in this book which are often posted as "pull" quotes on social media. Some drawbacks are: the antique language which can't be helped (that's when he was writing), his dwelling on aspects of the culture which cannot be revived or recreated (the joyful and free childhoods of American Indian children), and the odd ending he chose for the book which makes it seem that it hasn't actually ended. In spite of these complaints ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book of such spiritual and simple truth I love it all area's in life Life Death Nature the direction into Indian Tradition can bring only peace all these truths were the way before being altered by the white Mans perspective a missionary brain washing So many beautiful quotes about being thankful united silent and solitary to be free of all self seeking a sharing of all posessions and a gathering of so many simple truth to bring out peace and calm there is also the sadness within the story as ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful, informative book written by a Dakota Sioux in the 19th Century. He had a pure, unfiltered view of the beautiful Native American Religion. i.e. Be Thankful, be united, love one another, never quarrel about religion; Worship silent, solitary and free of all self-seeking; Love of possession is a snare - share the fruits of your skill and success with less fortunate brothers - this keeps your spirit free of the clog of pride, cupidity or envy.
Linda Chapman
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a very short book about the life of Charles Eastman. With all the racism in our country, I wanted to know more about the story of the American Indian and what really happened. I have several more books waiting for me on the subject. I also took an informal class from an American Indian.
Keith McArthur
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Written by a Dakota Sioux, born in 1858, so you are getting a first hand account of the subject matter. Charles went to medical school and worked help the Native Americans including those massacred at the Wounded Knee. Gave great detail of the beautiful Native American Religion.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man and animal's existence together

Excellent!! Very in depth explanation of American Indians culture and understanding of man and animal's existence and why we are here.
Probably the most noble people ever on this earth.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect Dogma

Charles Eastman beautifully illustrates the religion and customs of the Plains Indians. I highly recommend this for any aspiring theologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and archaeologists!
Ivan Kehelly
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short and interesting book with anyone with an interest in the Native American Indian. Written from the perspective of an Indian who had one foot in Indian culture and the other in the new American culture.
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Torn between. 3 star for lack of fleshing out subjects and 4 for novelty of observations presented. Interesting how by early 1900s the Native American way of life was forever changed and the “transition period” he talks about happened in first half of the 1800s.
Jordan Todd
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. A great introduction into Native American spirituality, history, and customs.
Derek Ost
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

An inspiring book. An eye opener to the ways of these ancient people. Inspiring to us to look at the world as sacred and spiritual.
Harlan Mcgrath
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting..
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's always interesting to hear experiences and culture and values first hand. This is one of those rare opportunities with the Native American culture, or at least his tribal affiliations part. ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3+ (liked it)
Jill Niebuhr
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
It is a book on the Indian culture and history. Written with facts and not many stories. Good for a basic historical understanding but not thorough by any account.
Wonderful. A must read for every person interested in Native american/First Nations History and contemporary issues.
I think it had to be a compulsory book at school and colleges.
Adrian Starks
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent read depicting the Native American’s deeper essence of their history, beliefs and culture that is unfiltered.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting stuff. Fascinating guy.
Christian Carbone
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book about the Native Americans and the ways they are kind, compassionate, and have such a deep connection with our ecosystem. Wyanet.
Joni McSpadden
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dakota teachings

I only wish this book were longer as it’s filled with valuable information on the worldview of the Native American.
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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 insisted he recei

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41 likes · 8 comments
“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!” 34 likes
“The logical man must either deny all miracles or none.” 15 likes
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