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We survived the end of the world : lessons from Native America on apocalypse and hope
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Publishers Weekly Review
In this perplexing hybrid of self-help and Native American history, Charleston (Ladder to the Light), a retired Episcopal bishop and citizen of the Choctaw Nation, responds to climate change, Covid-19, and other global crises by invoking the wisdom of Indigenous leaders whose communities struggled against white settlement. Drawing on the experiences of Ganiodaiio, a Seneca warrior and diplomat, who was known to white Americans as Cornplanter, Charleston urges readers to embrace individual accountability while simultaneously working for the common good. Following the ideas of Tenskwatawa, the "Shawnee Prophet," he calls on readers to build communities based on mutual respect. The example of Nez Perce shaman Smohalla emphasizes the importance of treating the environment as a living being rather than a resource for humans, while that of the Paiute Ghost Dancer Wovoka urges people to overcome fear and hatred of their opponents and strive for reconciliation. Unfortunately, Charleston doesn't offer specifics about how one might transform these sensible attitudes into strategies for individual and communal activism, and his historical research often comes up short, as when he describes early 19th-century Native Americans as having "a very libertarian existence." Readers will be disappointed. (Sept.)

From the moment European settlers reached these shores, the American apocalypse began. But Native Americans did not vanish. Apocalypse did not fully destroy them, and it doesn't have to destroy us.

Pandemics and war, social turmoil and corrupt governments, natural disasters and environmental collapse--it's hard not to watch the signs of the times and feel afraid. But we can journey through that fear to find hope. With the warnings of a prophet and the lively voice of a storyteller, Choctaw elder and author of Ladder to the Light Steven Charleston speaks to all who sense apocalyptic dread rising around and within.

You'd be hard pressed to find an apocalypse more total than the one Native America has confronted for more than four hundred years. Yet Charleston's ancestors are a case study in the liberating and hopeful survival of a spiritual community. How did Indigenous communities achieve the miracle of their own survival and live to tell the tale? What strategies did America's Indigenous people rely on that may help us to endure an apocalypse--or perhaps even prevent one from happening?

Charleston points to four Indigenous prophets who helped their people learn strategies for surviving catastrophe: Ganiodaiio of the Seneca, Tenskwatawa of the Shawnee, Smohalla of the Wanapams, and Wovoka of the Paiute. Through gestures such as turning the culture upside down, finding a fixed place on which to stand, listening to what the earth is saying, and dancing a ghostly vision into being, these prophets helped their people survive. Charleston looks, too, at the Hopi people of the American Southwest, whose sacred stories tell them they were created for a purpose. These ancestors' words reach across centuries to help us live through apocalypse today with courage and dignity.

Table of Contents
The Mystery and Miracle of Survival1
A Plain Pathway before Me21
The House of the Stranger51
If the Land Has Anything to Say83
To Go beyond What We Think Is Possible111
6The Hopi
Migrating through Time and Space139
We Are the Axis Point of the Apocalypse165
You Are a Prophet Because You Are Awake195
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