From Publishers Weekly
In 1999, Smith, renowned authority on world religions, accompanied a delegation of Native American religious leaders to the World Parliament of Religions in Cape Town, South Africa. These delegates contended that understanding the world's religions was impossible without considering the indigenous religions of the New World, which had so often been overlooked. This book grew out of a documentary film of the sessions at the parliament called A Seat at the Table: Struggling for American Indian Religious Freedom
. Smith interviewed Native American leaders ranging from the well-known (Vine Deloria Jr., Walter Echo-Hawk and Charlotte Black Elk) to the less widely recognized, such as Lenny Foster and Tonya Gonella Frichner. The remarkable conversations trace the common thread that Native Americans follow a spiritual path imbuing all their life, encompassing art, morality and literature. Topics include the fight for prisoners' rights, ceremonial rituals, the role of elders and the genius of oral traditions. Smith's interlocutors plead for a restoration of religious freedom so long repressed by an American government they believe is seeking to displace tribes from their lands and rob them of their tribal and spiritual identities. The interviews provide a fine introduction to Native American religions. (Nov.)
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From the Inside Flap
"A Seat At The Table is a valuable and insightful book about a too long overlooked topic - the right of Native American people to have their sacred sites and practices honored and protected. Let's hope it gets read far and wide, enough to bring about a real shift in policy and consciousness.”Bonnie Raitt
"Phil Cousineau has created a fine companion book to accompany the important film he and Gary Rhine have made in defense of the religious traditions of Native Americans. [Native Americans] are recognized the world over as keepers of a vital piece of the Creator's original orders, and yet they are regarded as little more than squatters at home. This book features impressive interviews, beautiful illustrations, and gives a voice to the voiceless.”Peter Coyote