Renewing the World: Plains Indian Religion and Morality

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Harrod's discussion of kinship and reciprocity in Northwest Plains cosmology contains valuable insight into Native American worldview, and his emphasis on the moral dimension of ritual process is a major addition to the too-often ignored subject of Native American moral life.

This particular book includes the major works on Blackfoot, Crow, Cheyennes, and Arapaho religion, the works to which anyone who wishes to understand the religious life of these tribes must continue to turn.

Review by Anita: This book focuses on four major tribes: the Blackfeet, Crows, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes. A study of their rituals and symbolic forms will give some insight into the complex religious and moral sensibilities which characterized these tribes. A number of world views lived in the experience of the groups that occupied the vast Great Plains. Understandings of the world were shaped by deeply shared forms sustained by ritual process. Ritual enactment of sacred symbols in song, dance, color, and structure form the religious and moral experience of the people. Though there were many similarities, there were also important differences. For instance, each tribe had their own interpretations of their oral traditions. Tradition was shaped by people’s understanding of how their world was formed. Moreover, oral traditions supported legends, stories of sacred animals, and other images all gave sense and understanding to the people’s way of life. Howard L. Harrod was A Oberlin Alumni Professor of Social Ethics and Sociology of Religion and a professor of religious studies. His teaching and research was focused on the sociology of religion of Native Americans of the Northern Plains.


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