Hardback
May 30, 2008
9780813124872
English
280
9.00 Inches (US)
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1.25 Pounds (US)
$70.00 USD
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
January 24, 2013
9780813141084
English
280
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1.00 Inches (US)
.85 Pounds (US)
$35.00 USD, £15.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Learning Native Wisdom

What Traditional Cultures Teach Us about Subsistence, Sustainability, and Spirituality

Scientific evidence has made it abundantly clear that the world's population can no longer continue its present rate of consuming and despoiling the planet's limited natural resources. Scholars, activists, politicians, and citizens worldwide are promoting the idea of sustainability, or systems and practices of living that allow a community to maintain itself indefinitely. Despite increased interest in sustainability, its popularity alone is insufficient to shift our culture and society toward more stable practices. Gary Holthaus argues that sustainability is achievable but is less a set of practices than the result of a healthy worldview. Learning Native Wisdom: Reflections on Subsistence, Sustainability, and Spirituality examines several facets of societies—cultural, economic, agricultural, and political—seeking insights into the ability of some societies to remain vibrant for thousands of years, even in extremely adverse conditions and climates. Holthaus looks to Eskimo and other Native American peoples of Alaska for the practical wisdom behind this way of living. Learning Native Wisdom explains why achieving a sustainable culture is more important than any other challenge we face today. Although there are many measures of a society's progress, Holthaus warns that only a shift away from our current culture of short-term abundance, founded on a belief in infinite economic growth, will represent true advancement. In societies that value the longevity of people, culture, and the environment, subsistence and spirituality soon become closely allied with sustainability.Holthaus highlights the importance of language as a reflection of shared cultural values, and he shows how our understanding of the very word subsistence illustrates his argument. In a culture of abundance, the term implies deprivation and insecurity. However, as Holthaus reminds us, "All cultures are subsistence cultures." Our post-Enlightenment consumer-based societies obscure or even deny our absolute dependence on soil, air, sunlight, and water for survival. This book identifies spirituality as a key component of meaningful cultural change, a concept that Holthaus defines as the recognition of the invisible connections between people, their neighbors, and their surroundings. For generations, native cultures celebrated and revered these connections, fostering a respect for past, present, and future generations and for the earth itself.Ultimately, Holthaus illustrates how spirituality and the concept of subsistence can act as powerful guiding forces on the path to global sustainability. He examines the perceptions of cultures far more successful at long-term survival than our own and describes how we might use their wisdom to overcome the sustainability crisis currently facing humanity.

About the Author

Gary Holthaus is the author of several books, including From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture and Wide Skies: Finding a Home in the West.

Reviews

"Perhaps the most profound and right-on-dead-center narrative I have read in a decade. These musings are uncannily brilliant in the way they refresh our sense of the already-hackneyed term sustainability. This book engages readers as if they are in active dialogue with a great mind and are being asked to think as deeply and passionately as the writer."—Gary Paul Nabhab, author of Where Our Food Comes From and founder of Renewing America's Food Traditions

"Holthaus offers a powerful case that we have ruptured the intimate bond between the health of humankind and the natural world, and that reconnecting the two may be one of our last chances for a viable future."—Garrit Voggesser, Senior Manager of the Tribal Lands Conservation Program, National Wildlife Federation

"Learning Native Wisdom teaches that we are all 'native' to the earth. This wisdom is not exotic, primitive, or 'other' but is embedded in the ancient, practical daily lifeways passed down for millennia by all our ancestors—functional, sustainable (ethical), and broadly spiritual. Developed world societies are also subsistence cultures, at the moment locked into hunting and gathering the shirinking resource oil. With wisdom comes gratitude, manners, and care for creation. Holthaus quotes a farmer friend who says. 'No use talking about sustainable agriculture if you don't have a sustainable culture.' This book is just what we need. It is deeply informed by Gary Holthaus's many years of teaching and working in the Alaskan bush."—Gary Snyder, author of Mountains and Rivers Without End

"Gary Holthaus shows us with infinite care how our desire for sustainability in many dimensions—agriculture, environment, economy, to name a few—can never be achieved without the support of a sustainable culture. Drawing on age-old wisdom, he argues that subsistence, sustainability, and spirituality must go hand in hand if we are to make our lives and our world healthy and whole. Without romanticizing traditional cultures, he uses their experiences to demonstrate that we humans at one time lived in this world in more sustainable ways and that, knowing this, we have the possibility to do so again."—David D. Chrislip, author of The Collaborative Leadership Fieldbook

"Holthaus illuminates the sharp distinctions between the long-term view taken by Native peoples regarding the connection between nature and humans, and the 'immediate return' goals of the U.S. economy, exemplified by our 'frantic hunt for the last barrel of oil.'"—Deborah Donovan, Booklist

"Holthaus's collection of essays is a pleasant immersion in the environmental philosophy of Native American (mainly Alaskan, in this case) ways of life and belief that contrast so vividly with the consumerist culture that permeates today's world."—Choice

""This is story-telling as learned from [Holthaus's] Indian and Eskimo friends and mentors in Alaska, with a brilliance that is refreshing because it is rooted in experience. Anyone interested in sustainability will find this book engaging and different.""—Craig Gerlach, Agricultural History

""For Holthaus, the 'spiritual task' is to learn to love the universe, including all the creation and the destruction, the health and the disease. Holthaus does a wonderful job of communicating this task throughout Learning Native Wisdom, as he describes how engagements in the continual effort of creating a sustainable culture require that humans learn to tell each other stories, learn to love the universe, learn to practice self-cultivation, and learn to participate in the relationship and reciprocity that entwine humans and the natural world.""—Worldviews: Environment Culture Religion

""[Holthaus] challenges [readers] to be mindful of their words, to shape them according to a larger vision of the sorts of persons they wish to be."—Agricultural Environment Ethics"—

""With the foundational stories of many spiritual belief systems and the work of certain spiritual leaders, Holthaus assesses how traditional and non-traditional spiritual belief systems might exist in contemporary culture." —Hilary B. Booker, Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch University"—

9780813124872 : learning-native-wisdom-holthaus
Hardback
280 Pages
$70.00 USD
9780813141084 : learning-native-wisdom-holthaus
Paperback / softback
280 Pages
$35.00 USD

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From the Farm to the Table

Gary Holthaus
Feb 2009 - University Press of Kentucky
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