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Gift of Power:
The Life and Teachings of a Lakota Medicine Man

A review by Bert H. Hoff

Chief Archie Fire Lame Deer, with Richard Erdoes, Gift of Power: The Life and Teachings of a Lakota Medicine Man. (Santa FE NM: Bear & Co., 1992) Order on-line

 Gift of Power
by Archie Lame Deer
(order on-line)

How does a Lakota adjust to the post-modern world? By being drunk and getting in a lot of fights for twenty years. By risking his life as a stunt man in Western movies, and watching white men put on makeup and play the "real Indian." Until his father, on his deathbed, gives him his bonnet and makes him a holder of the Sacred Pipe.

At least that was the way it was for Chief Archie Fire Lame Deer. That passing of power transformed his life forever. He became a drug and alcoholism counselor. He brought Native American spirituality into prisons. He teaches and leads ceremonies. Chief Archie Lame Deer is brother to Wallace Black Elk, interviewed in last month’s issue.

This book tells his story. It is a captivating, frequently funny, and often powerful narrative. Through his life, you get a feel for the depth of wisdom of Lakota spirituality. You get insights into the Lapland culture, the stone people of ancient Europe, and indigenous people around the world. And, you get great entertainment. In the Lakota tradition, as in this book, spirituality is not separate from the laughs, the pains, the sorrows, the foolish mistakes of life.

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