Regina author focuses on elders’ knowledge on Indigenous spirituality in new book

Indigenous studies professor and accomplished author Blair Stonechild has released the final book in his trilogy on Indigenous spirituality. Photo credit: Kristin Francis

Blair Stonechild has released his sixth book, called Challenge to Civilization: Indigenous Wisdom and the Future, which is focused on Indigenous spirituality, wisdom and land-based knowledge.

Stonechild is a residential school survivor and knows first-hand how the assimilation institutions had devastating effects on Indigenous spirituality.

“Indigenous spirituality is something which has always been badly understood,” Stonechild said. “Even myself, as a residential school graduate, I really didn’t understand that even when I started at university.”

His newly launched book is the last part of a trilogy for which he conducted years of research on Indigenous spirituality. The first two books are called The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality and Loss of Indigenous Eden and the Fall of Spirituality.

“It’s a culmination of many years of research that I’ve been doing on Indigenous spirituality, working with the elders,” he said. “I have been encouraged to do a lot of research which not only looks at the cultural aspects of Indigenous spirituality, but also what has happened historically of the way that Indigenous people have been treated (in) the way that their spirituality has been regarded.”

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It was the direction and encouragement from the elders that inspired Stonechild to publish his research based on oral history. To this day, Stonechild spends his time with elders and knowledge keepers to reclaim his Indigenous spirituality, which residential schools taught was bad.

“Mainstream society is not really aware of these. It’s not really understood (and) it’s not really well taught in schools,” he said. “People are suddenly waking up to the fact that maybe it was a mistake (for) society to have discounted what Indigenous people stood for. I think with the process of reconciliation, people’s eyes are slowly being opened to our teachings and to our wisdom.”

With the recent release of the concluding book to his trilogy, Stonechild is unsure if he will continue writing books. But says he will continue listening to the wise words of elders and knowledge keepers.

“I really enjoy the company of elders (and) knowledge keepers,” he said. “I’d say my best friends were those who were interested in things like spirituality and … I think it’s so important (because) people need that spiritual grounding.”

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Author Blair Stonechild



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