Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spotlight on Kent Nerburn's Native American Books

In Beauty May I Walk

In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully butterflies…

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me,
may I walk.

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively;
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again…
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

“In Beauty May I Walk” is a Navajo prayer that leaves you with a greater understanding of how Native Americans have respected the life and land around them striving to live in harmony with nature.

This prayer poem simply asks to do all things in life with beauty, illustrated through the metaphor of walking. This prayer is actually a chant, and the act of chanting mimics the repetition of walking- each chanted line is like one step on the poem’s walk, and the word “walk” repeated over and over again at the end of each line starts to sound onomatopoeic, like the heavy thud of a foot on a dirt path. The imagery of walking and the action of chanting sentences that end in “walk” fit comfortably together.
Minneapolis writer and two-time Minnesota Book Award-winner Kent Nerburn describes the culture and history of American Indians with profound respect and deep appreciation. He’s neither Indian himself nor an anthropologist, but his skills as an observer and listener are breathtaking. Nerburn writes beautifully and with insight about the people he meets and the landscapes of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published 16 books of creative non-fiction and essays, focusing on Native American and American culture and general spirituality. He won a Minnesota Book Award in 1995 for "Neither Wolf Nor Dog" and again in 2010 for "The Wolf At Twilight." His most recent work, ""The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo," is the final book in this trilogy. 
A link to Nerburn's published books
A book not to be overlooked is "The Wisdom of the Native Americans," edited by Nerburn. It's a great intro to the wisdom of Native Americans, as well as it offers a collection of quotes and speeches from leaders Red Jacket, Joseph, and Seattle. The collection is put together by Nerburn in three pieces that give you an understanding of America’s first people: The Ways of the Native Americans, the Soul of an Indian and the Wisdom of the Great Chiefs. The thought provoking teachings from Native American leaders on topics of life, family, war, death and nature offer the reader timeless messages and different perspectives. The poignant words left a deep impression on me. 

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