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Renewing the World
Plains Indian Religion and Morality
By Howard L. Harrod
213 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1992
Paper (978-0-8165-1312-3)
Related Interest
  - Philosophy and Religion
  - Indigenous and Native American Studies

A valuable resource for anthropologists, ethnohistorians, and western historians who wish to better understand ritual life in the Plains region. —Western Historical Quarterly

An impressive feature of this book is its solid grounding in turn-of-the-century anthropological reports by George Dorsey, George Bird Grinnell, Alfred L. Kroeber and their successor Robert H. Lowie....This work can serve as a reference on Plains Indian symbolism, or a presentation of alternative views of reality from which contemporaries, and not only Native American ones, have much to learn.

—Christian Century

This is a sympathetic evocation of the myths, cosmologies, sacred rituals and symbolic forms of major Native American tribes formerly inhabiting the Great Plains in the mid-nineteenth century—Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, and Blackfeet.


The author describes in rich detail the process by which power is transferred from spirits to individuals, the role of self-torture in vision-seeking, and how the visions received by some were significant to all.

—Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly

A good introduction to Indian belief for a sociology of religion class and will acquaint ethnohistorians with a kind of symbolic research that may complement ethnohistorical reconstructions of Plains belief systems.


"Harrod's discussion of kinship and reciprocity in Northwest Plains cosmology contains valuable insight into Native American worldview, and his emphasis on the moral dimension of ritual process is a major addition to the too-often ignored subject of Native American moral life." —Journal of Religion

"Includes the major works on Blackfoot, Crow, Cheyennes, and Arapaho religion, the works to which anyone who wishes to understand the religious life of these tribes must continue to turn." —Choice

"Plains people, Harrod suggests, refracted nature and conceived an environmental ethic through a metaphor of kinship. He is particularly skillful in characterizing the ambiguity Plains people expressed at the necessity of killing and eating their animal kin. Renewing the World also contributes to another new and uncultivated science we might call 'ecology of mind'." —Great Plains Quarterly

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