Native American Wisdom
Alan Jacobs, editor

This is a small book that's skimpy on content, especially where wisdom is concerned.  It's full of what seem to be chants and songs that might have been used during ceremonies, but most of which don't have much depth or wisdom to them.  An example:  "Day is here!  Day is here, is here! / Arise, my son, lift thine eyes.  Day is here!  Day is here, is here! / Day is here!  Day is here, is here!"  Most of the "wisdom" here is similar to this, with the basic idea of something to do with life, but no real pith behind it, nothing that can actually help us to learn about native wisdom or about our own lives; in fact, while many of the passages and poems seem to be spiritual  in nature, they don't help us to learn much wisdom behind the spirituality.

There are some very nice works here, including "Teach Us, and Show Us the Way," an 18th-century Chinook prayer, an Iroquois prayer of thanks, and more, but one must wade through a lot of much less interesting material to get to them.

Though it's a very small book, it takes on no less than 45 separate tribes in fewer than 180 small pages.  And the end of the book even has poems by non-native authors such as Coleridge and Thomas Campbell.  It seems that Jacobs never has a clear idea of just what he wants to present or why--he's simply gathered together some works from various tribes and packaged it all under the word "wisdom."  But trust me--you will be no wiser for having read this book.

I will say this:  it gives one an interesting glimpse into some of the thoughts and traditions of some of the members of some tribes.  But don't expect to get more than a glimpse, and certainly don't expect to learn much wisdom here.  There are certainly much better books on the market that are much more enlightening.
Our rating:  C-
Amazon rating (July, 2012):  5 stars, 2 reviews
Barnes and Noble rating (July, 2012):  No reviews