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Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, June 2024

Rediscovering Turtle Island:
A First Peoples' Account of the Sacred Geography of America
by Taylor Keen

Inner Traditions
Bear & Company
One Park Street
Rochester, Vermont 05767
June 2024, 208 pages, 6 x 9 Paperback, U.S. $ 20.00
70 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-59143-520-4

Reviewed by Brent Raynes

The author, Taylor Keen, holds a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and two master's degrees from Harvard University and has served as a Fellow in the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. In addition, he's a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, founder of Sacred Seed [https://www.sacredseed.org], an organization that is devoted to propagating tribal seed sovereignty and is a member of the Earthen Bison Clan of the Omaha Tribe where he is known as "Bison Mane."

Charles C. Mann's foreword kicks things off with penetrating insight, opening the door for our understanding and appreciation as to why someone like author Taylor Keen is the man for this job of describing and educating us about a wide variety of the history, spirituality, and mythologies of the Native American people of North America - known to many indigenous tribes as Turtle Island. The voices and stories of the Native people are often not their own. "Even when Native people did tell their tales in first person, it was almost always through a non-Native scholar, writer, or editor," Mann explains. He feels that this is about to change however and that this book is a sign of that coming change. "It is, I believe, just one of the first droplets in what will be a river of stories from cultures all over this beautiful country we share," adding, "It's hard for me to imagine anyone better equipped to be at the front of this new movement than Taylor Keen." The acclaimed Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller was even instrumental in encouraging Keen to seek a higher education. He has become a significant voice for the Native people.

Keen challenges previous mainstream historical versions about the Native people that have been presented by the voices of outsiders. He lends his voice to the people and cultures of Turtle Island. He shares a long held Native vision of a humanity coming together and taking environmental responsibility, which is at the very core of Indigenous mythology. He also delves into ancient sacred sites across the land, Indian Mounds and earthworks, revealing the impressive cosmology, sacred mathematics, and archeoastronomy that can be found at many such sites.

Sunday, July 14, 2024