This book provides an in-depth look at spiritual experiences about which very little has been written. Belief in reincarnation exists not only in India but in most small tribal societies throughout the world, including many Indian groups in North America.

The stories and commentary presented here are well researched and drawn from anthropological records and other reliable sources of information. Learn about a Winnebago shaman’s initiation, the Cherokee’s Orpheus myth, the story of “A Journey to the Skeleton House” from the Hopi, the Inuit man who lived the lives of all animals, the Ghost Dance, and other extraordinary accounts.

“The elements and majestic forces in nature, Lightning, Wind, Water, Fire, and Frost, were regarded with awe as spiritual powers, but always secondary and intermediate in character. We believed that the spirit pervades all creation and that every creature possesses a soul in some degree, though not necessarily a soul conscious of itself. The tree, the waterfall, the grizzly bear, each is an embodied Force, and as such an object of reverence.” —Ohiyesa


“This book contains a unique collection of fascinating stories about reincarnation, soul travel, metamorphosis, and near-death experience. It offers a rare look into the rich spiritual life of the Indian people, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in comparative religion and the cultures of the North American Indian.”—Antonia Mills, PhD, Professor of First Nations Studies, University of Northern British Columbia, coeditor of "Amerindian Rebirth"

"When the topic of 'past lives' is discussed, most people think of traditions from India and its Asian neighbors. However, another group of 'Indians,' namely those in today's United States and Canada, held similar beliefs that were equal to Asian mythologies in their sophistication and complexity. Warren Jefferson has meticulously documented North American reincarnation beliefs, legends, and stories in this engaging and authoritative account of a worldview that somehow survived the European invasion and continues to impact many contemporary tribal groups. This book is a fascinating description of how a spiritual paradigm played (and still plays) a vital role in the daily life of its believers, revitalizing and energizing the individual, the family, and the community."—Stanley Krippner, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School, coeditor "Varieties of Anomalous Experience"

"This very interesting volume is a compilation of reincarnation beliefs, experiences, movements, and stories among North American Indians, including near-death experiences, soul travel, and metamorphoses. The accounts were taken largely from two sources: the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology publications and The Internet Sacred Text Archive. Most range in date from the 19th to the early 20th century. Many different North American groups are represented, including the Inuit of the North, the Kwakiutl of the Northwest Coast, the Hopi of the Southwest, the Winnebago of the Great Lakes, the Cherokee of the Southeast, and the Sioux of the Plains.

"The collection is preceded by a chapter with an overview of North American Indian religious beliefs. The final two chapters offer a brief comparison of North American Indian reincarnation beliefs and experiences with those from Greek and Roman history and from the world's great religions, pointing to the commonalities among all premodern peoples. Black-and-white photos appear throughout, largely taken from Edward Curtis's 20-volume set The North American Indian (1907-30). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers."—"Choice," September 2009, M. R. Dittemore, Smithsonian Institution Libraries

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Warren Jefferson
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Native Voices