Evan T. Pritchard, a descendant of the Mi'kmaq people (part of the Algonquin nation), is the founder of The Center for Algonquin Culture. He is Professor of Native American history at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he also teaches ethics and philosophy.
Named Abachbahamedtch (or chipmunk) by Mi'kmaq people, he is assistant to several Algonquin elders. Since 1990, his work bringing the Algonquin message to the media has helped thousands of people gain a better understanding of this great civilization and its teachings. He lectures frequently around the United States, sharing storytelling, traditional and contemporary songs, and bi-lingual poetry. He has written many books including No Word for Time and Native American Stories of the Sacred. Visit his website at www.algonquinculture.org.
Traditional Native Americans have viewed birds as spiritual teachers for at least 10,000 years. This engrossing and illuminating book is based on Pritchard's field interviews with people in the Native community on birds as gatekeepers, mentors and messengers, allies, guardians, healers, life changers, role models, and more. Bird medicine has been handed down through tribal shamans over the centuries to the present era when elders still talk about the manifold ways in which the birds teach us about the Great Spirit, ourselves, and the world in which we live.
Pritchard begins with lively examinations of "The Four Gatekeepers" (four sacred birds of the four directions): eagles, hawks, crows, and owls. In one sense, they are emissaries from another world and in other stories they are companions who stay close to us. The eagle and the hawk are considered pure messengers of enlightened states who bring good fortune, whereas the crow and the owl often deliver warnings that should be heeded.
Birds face many dangers today as a result of human greed, excess, and lack of respect for these winged creatures. Among them are the increase in lighted towers, electromagnetic transmissions, illegal poaching, environmental disasters such as the BP oil spill, and global warming.
We have a friend whose backyard is a sacred spot for the many birds in the area. We watch them flying up the street and making a bee-line for the feeders and the welcoming plants in the garden. As we sit there we are enchanted with their songs and motions, the colors of their feathers, the little ceremonies they perform, their acts of courtesy, and their elegant departures. We are reminded of Pritchard's respectful overviews of hummingbirds, seagulls, sparrows, loons, parrots, turkeys, and thunderbirds who are allies with our best interests at heart.
Bird Medicine: The Sacred Power of Bird Shamanism by Evan T. Pritchard is a masterwork of insight and inspiration distilling the wisdom of these winged spiritual teachers as interpreted by Native Americans in stories and rituals.