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NSU professor to publish book on Kiowa beliefs, rituals

Kiowa Belief and Ritual Book cover

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- The University of Nebraska Press has published Northeastern State University’s Dr. Benjamin Kracht’s “Kiowa Belief and Ritual.” Kracht is a professor of anthropology and the chair of the Department of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at NSU. He has been a part of NSU for 25 years and has been conducting ethnographic fieldwork with the Kiowas for the last 35 years.

In 1935, the Santa Fe Laboratory of Anthropology sponsored a field school in southwestern Oklahoma that focused on the neighboring Kiowas. During two months, graduate students compiled more than 1,300 pages of field notes from cross interviews of 35 Kiowas. The massive data compiled from these field notes resulted in a number of publications on the Plains tribe, though a collaborative ethnography never materialized and the extensive Kiowa field notes remained largely unpublished until now.

In his book, Kracht reconstructs Kiowa cosmology during the height of the horse and buffalo culture from field notes pertaining to cosmology, visions, shamans, sorcery, dream shields, tribal bundles and the now-extinct Sun Dance ceremony. These topics are interpreted through the Kiowa concept of power force permeating the universe. Drawing on more than 30 years of field experiences, Kracht’s discussion on how indigenous notions of “power” are manifested today significantly enhances the existing literature concerning Plains regions.

Kracht’s book has already received praise from scholarly peers. Donald L. Fixico, foundation professor of history at Arizona State University said Kracht provides keen insight into the belief system and worldview of the Kiowa people.

“This ethnographic window reveals what is sacred, powerful, and spiritual among this warrior people of the southern plains. Kracht’s scholarship advances our understanding of the true reality of the Kiowas,” Fixico said.

“’Kiowa Belief and Ritual’ offers a meticulously researched and richly detailed account of pre-reservation Kiowa religious life,” Michael Paul Jordan, assistant professor of ethnology at Texas Tech University, said.  “Benjamin Kracht makes extensive use of interviews conducted with Kiowa elders in 1935, and their recollections and experiences make for compelling reading. This is a significant contribution to the literature on Native North America.”

“Kiowa Belief and Ritual” is available online at the University of Nebraska Press website.

Published: 6/13/2017 4:11:24 PM

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