cover image Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Spirit-Based Change

Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Spirit-Based Change

Sherri L. Mitchell. North Atlantic, $19.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1623-17195-7

Lawyer and activist Mitchell, a member of the Penawahpskek (Penobscot) Nation, offers an all-embracing message of human connectedness that will resonate widely. Drawing on her own spiritual experiences, Mitchell argues that all human beings are inextricably connected to one another and to the natural world, and that the history of the United States is one of conquest and genocide driven by Christian religious extremism. New stories of wholeness and interconnection are urgently needed, she says, to turn society from its currently destructive path. She writes that coming to terms with a history of violence, decolonizing natural and social resources (like courts and schools), rejecting patriarchal hierarchies, and recentering communal values can help to create a new and better future. The work contrasts the values of community, collaboration, and inclusivity (which Mitchell positions as intrinsically Native American) with Euro-American individuality, competition, and exclusivity. Those who don’t share Mitchell’s beliefs in the interconnectedness of all will probably not be swayed by her arguments. However, tradition-specific language aside, the ethics and practices Mitchell promotes (particularly universal oneness) are shared widely across many world religions, and their articulation here—grounded in indigenous North American Wabanaki spiritual traditions—is a welcome resource. (Feb.)