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About Kent Nerburn
My work has been a constant search, from various perspectives, for an authentic American spirituality, integrating our western Judeo-Christian tradition with the other traditions of the world, and especially the indigenous spirituality of the people who first inhabited this continent. Someone once called me a “guerilla theologian,” and I think that is fairly accurate.
I am deeply concerned with the human condition and our responsibility to the earth, the people on it, and the generations to come. I believe that we are, at heart, spiritual beings seeking spiritual meaning, and I try to honor this search in my work and my daily life.
If there is a quote I live by, it is the entreaty of the Lakota Chief, Sitting Bull, who said to the U.S. government that was trying to eradicate his people, "Come, let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can create for our children."
Much more about me and my work can be found at my website, www.kentnerburn.com.
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Titles By Kent Nerburn
Against an unflinching backdrop of 1990s reservation life and the majestic spaces of the western Dakotas, Neither Wolf nor Dog tells the story of two men, one white and one Indian, locked in their own understandings yet struggling to find a common voice. In this award-winning book, acclaimed author Kent Nerburn draws us deep into the world of a Native American elder named Dan, who leads Kent through Indian towns and down forgotten roads that swirl with the memories of the Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull. Along the way we meet a vivid cast of characters — ranging from Jumbo, a 400-pound mechanic, to Annie, an eighty-year-old Lakota woman living in a log cabin with no running water. An unlikely cross between On the Road and Black Elk Speaks, Neither Wolf nor Dog takes us past the myths and stereotypes of the Native American experience, revealing an America few ever see.
In this fictionalized account of actual events, Nerburn brings the land of the northern High Plains alive and reveals the Native American way of teaching and learning with a depth that few outsiders have ever captured.
Hidden in the shadow cast by the great western expeditions of Lewis and Clark lies another journey every bit as poignant, every bit as dramatic, and every bit as essential to an understanding of who we are as a nation -- the 1,800-mile journey made by Chief Joseph and eight hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children from their homelands in what is now eastern Oregon through the most difficult, mountainous country in western America to the high, wintry plains of Montana. There, only forty miles from the Canadian border and freedom, Chief Joseph, convinced that the wounded and elders could go no farther, walked across the snowy battlefield, handed his rifle to the U.S. military commander who had been pursuing them, and spoke his now-famous words, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
The story has been told many times, but never before in its entirety or with such narrative richness. Drawing on four years of research, interviews, and 20,000 miles of travel, Nerburn takes us beyond the surrender to the captives' unlikely welcome in Bismarck, North Dakota, their tragic eight-year exile in Indian Territory, and their ultimate return to the Northwest. Nerburn reveals the true, complex character of Joseph, showing how the man was transformed into a myth by a public hungry for an image of the noble Indian and how Joseph exploited the myth in order to achieve his single goal of returning his people to their homeland.
Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce is far more than the story of a man and a people. It is a grand saga of a pivotal time in our nation's history. Its pages are alive with the presence of Lewis and Clark, General William Tecumseh Sherman, General George Armstrong Custer, and Sitting Bull. Its events brush against the California Gold Rush, the Civil War, the great western pioneer migration, and the building of the telegraph and the transcontinental railroad. Once you have read this groundbreaking work, you will never look at Chief Joseph, the American Indian, or our nation's westward journey in the same way again.
Taken from writings, orations, and recorded observations of life, this book selects the best of Native American wisdom and distills it to its essence in short, digestible quotes — perhaps even more timely now than when they were first written. In addition to the short passages, this edition includes the complete Soul of an Indian, as well as other writings by Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman), one of the great interpreters of American Indian thought, and three great speeches by Chiefs Joseph, Seattle, and Red Jacket.
"Where there is hatred, let me sow love...Where there is injury, let me sow pardon..." Expanding upon each line of the St. Francis Prayer, Nerburn shares touching, inspiring stories from his own experience and that of others and reveals how each of us can make a difference for good in ordinary ways without being heroes or saints. Struggling to help a young son comfort his best friend when his mother dies, moved by the courage of war enemies who reconcile, being wrenched out of self-absorbed depression by responding to someone else's tragedy, taking a spirited old lady on a farewell taxi ride through her town-these are the kinds of everyday moments in which Nerburn finds we can live out the spirit of St. Francis.
By incorporating the power and grace of these few lines of practical idealism into our thoughts and deeds, we can begin to ease our own suffering-and the suffering of those with whom we share our lives. And, remarkably, find a way to true peace and happiness by tapping into our basic human goodness. As we open our hearts and embrace his words, St. Francis "touches our deepest humanity and ignites the spark of our divinity."Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love,
Where there is injury let me sow pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
And where there is sadness, joy...
In this beautifully written book, Kent Nerburn leads us into the heart of the St. Francis Prayer and line by line demonstrates how St. Francis's words can resonate in our lives today.
— A Shoshone elder
The genius of the Native Americans has always been their profound spirituality and their deep understanding of the land and its ways.
For three decades, author Kent Nerburn has lived and worked among the Native American people. Voices in the Stones is a unique collection of his encounters, experiences, and reflections during that time.
He takes us inside a traditional Native feast to show us how the children are taught to respect the elders. He brings us to an isolated prairie rock outcropping where a young Native man and his father show us how the power of ceremony connects the present with the ancient voices of the past. At a dusty roadside café he introduces us to an elder who remembers the time when his ancestors could talk to animals.
In these and other deeply touching stories, Nerburn reveals the spiritual awareness that animates all of Native American life, and shows us how we have much to learn from one another if only we have the heart to listen.
There is something archetypal about the philosophy of the original Americans, especially to the sensibilities of modern European Americans. We recognize it as coming from the earth we walk on, from those who preceded us. As we read the wisdom of these peoples, it is possible to feel a reconnection with our land and ourselves.
Taken from orations, recorded observations of life and social affairs, and other first-person testimonies, this book selects the best of Native American wisdom and distills it to its essence in short, digestible quotes that are meaningful and timeless — perhaps even more timely now than when they were written.
From the Book . . .
ON EDUCATION & LEARNING
The true measure of your education is not what you know, but how you share what you know with others.
People who measure their money against their desires will never be happy, because there will always be another desire waiting to lure them. People who measure their money against their needs can gain control over their lives by gaining control over their needs.
Love has its own time, its own season, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it or reason it into staying. If it chooses to leave your heart or the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and nothing you should do. Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life. If you keep your heart open, it will surely come again.
Whether he's describing a kite's dance on the winds above the high New Mexico desert, a funeral on an isolated Indian reservation, or a dinnertime conversation among family and friends, Kent Nerburn is among a handful of writers capable of moving so gently over such deep waters. The Hidden Beauty of Everyday Life reveals the sacred moments waiting to be discovered in each and every life.