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A Seat at the Table

Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom

Huston Smith (Author), Phil Cousineau (Editor), Gary Rhine (Contributor)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 253 pages
ISBN: 9780520251694
March 2007
$26.95, £22.00
Other Formats Available:
In this collection of illuminating conversations, renowned historian of world religions Huston Smith invites ten influential American Indian spiritual and political leaders to talk about their five-hundred-year struggle for religious freedom. Their intimate, impassioned dialogues yield profound insights into one of the most striking cases of tragic irony in history: the country that prides itself on religious freedom has resolutely denied those same rights to its own indigenous people. With remarkable erudition and curiosity—and respectfully framing his questions in light of the revelation that his discovery of Native American religion helped him round out his views of the world's religions—Smith skillfully helps reveal the depth of the speakers' knowledge and experience. American Indian leaders Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux), Winona LaDuke (Anishshinaabeg), Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Frank Dayish, Jr. (Navajo), Charlotte Black Elk (Oglala Lakota), Douglas George-Kanentiio (Mohawk-Iroquois), Lenny Foster (Dine/Navajo), Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga), Anthony Guy Lopez (Lakota-Sioux), and Oren Lyons (Onondaga) provide an impressive overview of the critical issues facing the Native American community today. Their ideas about spirituality, politics, relations with the U.S. government, their place in American society, and the continuing vitality of their communities give voice to a population that is all too often ignored in contemporary discourse. The culture they describe is not a relic of the past, nor a historical curiosity, but a living tradition that continues to shape Native American lives.
The Indian Way of Story
Introduction: The Primal Religions
Huston Smith

1. The Spiritual Malaise in America:
The Confluence of Religion, Law, and Community
A conversation with Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux)
2. Five Hundred Nations within One:
The Search for Religious Justice
A conversation with Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee)
3. Ecology and Spirituality:
Following the Path of Natural Law
A conversation with Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg)
4. The Homelands of Religion:
The Clash of Worldviews Over Prayer, Place, and Ceremony
A conversation with Charlotte Black Elk (Oglala Lakota)
5. Native Language, Native Spirituality:
From Crisis to Challenge
A conversation with Douglas George-Kanentiio (Mohawk-Iroquois)
6. The Triumph of the Native American Church:
Celebrating the Free Exercise of Religion
A conversation with Frank Dayish Jr. (Navajo)
7. The Fight for Native American Prisoners’ Rights:
The Red Road to Rehabilitation
A conversation with Lenny Foster (Navajo)
8. Stealing Our Spirit:
The Threat of the Human Genome Diversity Project
A conversation with Tonya Gonella Frichner (Onondaga)
9. The Fight for Mount Graham:
Looking for the Fingerprints of God
A conversation with Anthony Guy Lopez (Lakota Sioux)
10. Redeeming the Future:
The Two Instructions of Spiritual Law
A conversation with Oren Lyons (Onondaga)
11. The Healing of Indian Country:
Kinship, Custom, Ceremony, and Oratory
A conversation with Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux)

Huston Smith
Huston Smith is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Syracuse University. Among his many books are The Religions of Man (1958, republished as The World's Religions in 1991) and Why Religion Matters (2001). Phil Cousineau is the author and editor of numerous books, including Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Modern Times (2001) and The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred (1998).
“An engaging discussion of the differences between Western and Native American approaches to worship and morality, and a call for American society to wake up to its destructive ways.”—Dallas Morning News
“The book . . . is an engaging discussion of the differences between Western and Native American approaches to worship and morality, and a call for American society to wake up to its destructive ways.”—Sara Campbell Pasadena Star News
"A Seat At The Table is a valuable and insightful book about a too long overlooked topic - the right of Native American people to have their sacred sites and practices honored and protected. Let's hope it gets read far and wide, enough to bring about a real shift in policy and consciousness.”—Bonnie Raitt

"Phil Cousineau has created a fine companion book to accompany the important film he and Gary Rhine have made in defense of the religious traditions of Native Americans. [Native Americans] are recognized the world over as keepers of a vital piece of the Creator's original orders, and yet they are regarded as little more than squatters at home. This book features impressive interviews, beautiful illustrations, and gives a voice to the voiceless.”—Peter Coyote

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