Native wisdom: The North American Indian

They never believed their will would overpower nature

Before I left for the American southwest, I tried to see what I would see, assiduously looking for the right books, then carefully carrying them home from the library.

One of those I read (or at least four chapters, anyway) was the Doris Kindersley Eyewitness Guide bearing the title North American Indian.

The Eyewitness Guide, of course, is a 35-year-old series of educational non-fiction books, which now run to more than 160 titles on subjects as diverse as dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, flags, chemistry, music, the solar system, film, and Shakespeare. In February 2021, Dorling Kindersley claimed that more than 50 million copies have been sold worldwide in 36 languages.

The Eyewitness Guide to the Amerindians was, as is its trademark style, comprehensive, detailed and colourful with photographs and detailed illustrations. As has been said before, this series literally reinvented nonfiction books – and that too for almost every age group from nine upwards, by breaking up pages and pages of solid gray type with beautiful and informational pictures and pithy captions.

So what did I learn from David Murdoch’s guide to the North American Indian? First and foremost, the scale of what I would find in the southwest, travelling through New Mexico, Arizona and Texas (N.B. Texas is generally classified as the south).

But second and more to the point, I learnt about the great wisdom of native peoples – they never became so arrogant as to believe their will would overpower nature. I will discuss this more fully next.

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

Also read:

Prepping for the American southwest