Cover image for Distinguished Native American spiritual practitioners and healers
Distinguished Native American spiritual practitioners and healers
Johnson, Troy R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Oryx Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 293 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E89 .J7 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The lives and practices of 100 healers and spiritual leaders from a variety of North American Native peoples are described here. Included are both historical and contemporary figures. While some of the figures are well known, such as the Apache Goyathlay (Geronimo), others are more obscure. This book is one of the few available sources of detailed information on their lives and careers.

Entries include a summary of the individual's life, a history of the person's early life, a description of the highlights of his or her career as a healer or spiritual practitioner, and recommendations for further reading. Photos of the individuals illustrate 26 of the entries. A bibliography, subject index, and two appendixes that list individuals by birth date and by Nation or group round out the volume.

Author Notes

TROY R. JOHNSON is a professor of American Indian Studies and U.S. History at California State University, Long Beach. He is the author, editor, or associate editor of 17 books and numerous scholarly journal articles and has presented a score of papers at scholarly conferences. His area of expertise also includes American Indian activism, federal Indian law, Indian child welfare, and Indian youth suicide.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Although there is increased interest in Native American religious practices, there are relatively few new reference books on the topic. Johnson, California State University^-Long Beach associate professor of American Indian studies, provides a basic reference tool on the lives of 100 contemporary and historical Native spiritual leaders. Each of the 100 lengthy (1,000 to 2,000 word) entries begins with a "quick summary heading" listing the individual's full name at birth (with variants), birth and death data, education, and leadership title. Entries conclude with a three-to nine-item bibliography for further reading and research. Wherever possible, a Web site and a black-and-white photograph are included. Subjects include Aiowantha (Hiawatha), Charles Eastman, Quanah Parker, Susan La Flesche Picotte, Pretty-Shield, Kateri Tekakwitha, and White Buffalo Calf Woman. Some were educated as medical practitioners; others were cultural heroes recognized by their nation as prophets or healers. There are two appendixes. One lists "Native American Spiritual Practitioners and Healers by Birth Date" (year), and the second lists them by nation or group. The lengthy bibliography includes three double-columned pages of Web sites. The introduction does not explain how the main entry names were selected. In some cases, the entry heading reflects the subject's birth name (as in the case of the person commonly known as Hiawatha, whose entry is under Aiowantha). In other cases the entry appears under the commonly recognized name (for example, Sitting Bull). See entries help resolve most difficulties. Other drawbacks include guide words being listed only on odd-numbered pages and no guide to pronunciation. Even with its minor shortcomings this work is helpful, especially in locating biographical information on healers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There is some overlap with Encyclopedia of Native American Religions: An Introduction (rev. ed., Facts On File, 2000), which offers discussions of spiritual traditions as well as biographical information on Christian missionaries like Marcus Whitman. Teamed together these two works will provide good coverage. This moderately priced reference work will be most useful in public and college libraries where there is a local or curricular need for information on Native American religious practices.

Library Journal Review

For this new A-to-Z resource, Johnson (history, California State Univ., Long Beach) has written short biographical essays on 100 Native American spiritual figures. The figures profiled are a mix of the well known, such as Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Black Elk; the less famous, such as Wovoka and Quanah Parker; and many who will be obscure to the average reader. The earliest subject dates from the mid-14th century (Deganawida), while the most recent (Reuben A. Snake Jr.) was born in 1937. Each entry provides all of the subject's variant names, birth and death dates (if known), education, and leadership position. The two- to three-page essays include a summary, a description of the subject's early life and leadership, and suggestions of print and electronic sources for further reading. Two appendixes list the subjects by birth date and by nation or group, and a general index is included. With its breadth of coverage, this is a good first stop for researching specific Native American spiritual leaders or healers. The introduction is brief and does not attempt a broader overview of the subject of Native American spirituality. Recommended for academic and public libraries. Stephen Joseph, Butler Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Johnson has assembled a helpful, easy-to-use "compendium of the lives and practices of 100 Native healers and spiritual leaders." Writing about Native spiritual tradition and practitioners requires sensitivity to the topic, which the author clearly demonstrates. It is good to see some lesser-reported but influential individuals covered (e.g., John Slocum, Thomas Banyacya). Since only three contemporary spiritual leaders are included, omissions (e.g., Arvol Looking Horse), while evident, are unavoidable in a finite number of entries. Entries are arranged alphabetically. Johnson carefully includes significant information about the individuals' lives and leadership activities. Each entry includes references for further reading. Appendixes list the subjects by birth date and by nation. The cumulative bibliography at the end has sections that list books, articles and chapters, and Web sites. This volume fills a niche not covered by other Native American biographical compilations and provides more information on spiritual practitioners than other reference works on Native American ceremonial tradition, such as William S. Lyon's Encyclopedia of Native American Shamanism (CH, Oct'99). The author (American Indian studies, California State Univ., Long Beach) has published several books on Native American activism and political issues. A bit pricey, but recommended for all libraries. M. Cedar Face Southern Oregon University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. ix
Aiowantha (Hiawatha)p. 1
Akikitap. 3
William Apesp. 6
Aripekap. 9
Thomas Banyacyap. 12
Big Ikep. 16
Josie Billiep. 18
Black Elkp. 21
Black Hairy Dogp. 24
James Blue Birdp. 26
James Chrysostom Bouchardp. 29
Box Elderp. 32
Brave Buffalo (Tatan' ka ohi' tika)p. 34
Fanny Brownp. 36
Bull Lodgep. 38
Jesse Bushyheadp. 41
Calf Shirtp. 44
Peter Catchesp. 46
Nels Charlesp. 48
Coocoocheep. 50
George Copwayp. 52
Crazy Mulep. 54
Henry Crow Dog IIp. 57
Curley Headed Doctor (or Curly-Headed Doctor)p. 60
Davekop. 63
Deganawidap. 65
Philip Joseph Deloriap. 67
Vine Victor Deloria, Sr.p. 70
Vine Deloria, Jr.p. 72
Charles Alexander Eastmanp. 75
Enmegahbowhp. 78
Fanny Flounderp. 81
Frank Fools Crowp. 84
Stephen Foremanp. 89
Josiah Francisp. 91
Goyathlay (Geronimo)p. 93
Handsome Lake (Skanyadariyoh)p. 96
Albert Hensleyp. 99
Emily Hillp. 102
Hola Tsop. 105
Jake Huntp. 107
Kah-ke-wa-quo-na-by ("Sacred Feathers") (Peter Jones)p. 109
Kee-Kah-Wah-Un-Ga (Reuben A. Snake, Jr.)p. 112
Kenekukp. 115
Keserukp. 118
Kicking Bearp. 120
John Kingp. 122
Susan La Flesche Picottep. 124
John (Fire) Lame Deerp. 127
Low Hornp. 130
Mamantip. 132
Mabel McKayp. 134
Ruby Modestop. 137
Mon'Hin Thin Gep. 139
Mountain Wolf Womanp. 142
Nakaidoklinip. 145
Neolin (Delaware Prophet) ("The Enlightened One")p. 147
Ne-sha-pa-na-cumin (Charles Journeycake)p. 149
Samson Occump. 153
Molly Ockettp. 156
Pagitsp. 159
Quanah Parkerp. 161
Essie Parrishp. 164
Passaconawayp. 167
Piapotp. 170
Pope (Popay)p. 174
Porcupinep. 177
Pretty-Shieldp. 179
Rolling Thunderp. 181
Juan de Jesus Romero (Deer Bird)p. 183
Sanapiap. 186
Shoniagizikp. 188
Short Bullp. 191
Sitting Bull (Hana cha-thi ak)p. 194
Skolaskin (or Kolaskin)p. 197
John Slocump. 200
Redbird Smithp. 203
Smohallap. 205
Stone Foreheadp. 208
Suwip. 210
Sweet Medicinep. 212
Tavibo (Northern Paiute-White Man)p. 214
Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwithap. 217
Enskwatawa ("Open Door")p. 220
Albert Thomasp. 223
Toohoolhoolzotep. 225
Toypurina (Regina Josefa Toypurina)p. 228
John Trehero ("Rainbow")p. 230
Two Wolvesp. 233
Wabokieshiekp. 235
Wassaja (Carlos Montezuma)p. 238
White Birdp. 241
White Buffalo Calf Womanp. 244
White Bull ("Ice" or "Hail")p. 246
Eleazar Williamsp. 249
Wodziwob ("Gray Hair")p. 251
Wolf Chiefp. 254
Wovoka (Jack Wilson)p. 256
Allen Wrightp. 259
Thomas Yellowtailp. 261
Appendix A Native American Spiritual Practitioners and Healers by Birth Datep. 265
Appendix B Native American Spiritual Practitioners and Healers by Nation or Groupp. 269
Bibliographyp. 273
Indexp. 281