The story of the American Indians has, until now, been told as a 500-year tragedy, a story of violent and fatal encounters with Europeans and their diseases, followed by steady retreat, defeat, and diminishment. Yet the true story begins much earlier, and its final recent chapter adds a major twist. Jake Page, one of the Southwest's most distinguished writers and a longtime student of Indian history and culture, tells a radically new story, thanks to an explosion of recent archaeological findings, the latest scholarship, and an exploration of Indian legends. Covering no less than 20,000 years, In the Hands of the Great Spirit will forever change how we think about the oldest and earliest Americans. Page writes gracefully and sympathetically, without sentimentality. He explores every controversy, from the question of cannibalism among tribes, to the various theories of when and how humans first arrived on the continent, to what life was actually like for Indians before the Europeans came. Page dispels the popular image of a peaceful and idyllic Eden, and shows that Indian societies were fluid, constantly transformed by intertribal fighting, population growth, and shifting climates. Page uses Indian legends and stories as tools to uncover tribal origins, cultural values, and the meaning of certain rituals and sacred lands. He tells the story of contact with Europeans, and the multipower conflicts of the Seven Years War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812, from the Indians' point of view. He explains the complex and shifting role of the U.S. government as expressed through executive decisions and through the role of the courts. Finally, he tells the fascinating story of the late-twentieth-century upsurge in Indian population and resources, which began as a social movement and exploded once casinos came into fashion. Author and editor of over a dozen books on American Indian life and culture, Page is a masterful teller of this incredible story. In the Hands of the Great Spirit will forever change the familiar story of recent centuries, replacing it with a far more sweeping and meaningful story of tribes and peoples who have suffered enormously yet endure and enrich the American experience.
Today, some two million American Indians inhabit the United States, less than one percent of the nation's population. Their origins have always been viewed from a 500-year-old perspective—from the point of view of the Europeans who “discovered” the New World. Yet the true story of the American Indians begins some seventeen thousand years ago—and it is past due for a telling that shows Indians as they are, rather than as westerners wish them to be.
Recent archaeological findings, newly discovered written accounts, and never-before-published records have contributed to a whole new understanding of our country's oldest ancestors. Drawing upon the latest research, as well as his own personal experience living among the Hopi tribes, acclaimed author and former Natural History magazine editor Jake Page covers all aspects of Indian life throughout the ages. From the Pleistocene era to Custer's Last Stand, the Trail of Tears to the Indian Civil Rights Act, the establishment of reservations to the negotiation of casino property, In the Hands of the Great Spirit reveals the astonishing endurance of a group of people whose experience is as varied as the world is old.
Jake Page is a former editor of both Natural History and Smithsonian magazines, and author of numerous magazine articles and books on topics related to American Indian history, culture, and art. He is also the author of seven mystery novels and alternative history novels that involve Indian themes and characters, and was called by The Denver Post "one of the Southwests most distinguished writers." He lives in Corrales, New Mexico.
Santa Fe New Mexican A history survey and narrative with no equal, In the Hands of the Great Spirit is a work that belongs on the shelves of anyone who aims to gain a deeper understanding of the history, suffering, and triumphs of this land's original inhabitants.
Phoenix New Times Page brings scholarly detail as well as literary flair to this epic account.
Publishers Weekly (starred review) A magnum opus...fills an enormous gap in the popular historical literature.
The Washington Post Judicious, as well as flowing, lucid, and satisfying....Great praise goes to Page for joining so many others in getting out the story of Indian nations.