The Sacred Land Film Project’s Eclectic Reading List

Sacred Texts | Sacred Lands | Fiction-Poetry-Memoir | Anthropology | Science | Ecology–Environmentalism | Cultural Criticism–Theory | History | Socially Responsible Investment & Corporate Responsibility |Political Science and The Law | Religious Studies | Law Review Articles

What follows is a collection of readings from different disciplines and cultural perspectives that illuminates the consciousness of the Earth, traditional wisdom — both Indian and non-Indian — on the relationship between culture and nature, and a variety of political and historical interpretations of land use and the environmental movement. This list is by no means definitive. It is meant to suggest starting places for one’s own inquiry, and to inspire consideration of alternative narratives about personal, cultural and political “space” in our society. While reading can enhance one’s self-knowledge and cultural and environmental awareness, nothing takes the place of simply becoming aware of the significant places in one’s life — and being there. What is sacred to you?

Please send us your suggested readings! Also, send us any corrections to the items listed here.

We have collected six in-depth essays into The Sacred Land Reader, which you can download.

Sacred Texts

Akwesasne Notes, ed., Basic Call to Consciousness

Jeannette Armstrong, “Keepers of the Earth

Vine Deloria, Jr., “Sacred Lands and Religious Freedom

Mark Dowie, The Haida Gwaii Lesson: A Strategic Playbook for Indigenous Sovereignty and Conservation Refugees – The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples

Suzan Harjo, Statement to US Senate Indian Affairs Committee (6/18/03)

Lee Irwin, “Freedom, Law, and Prophecy: A Brief History of Native American Religious Resistance

Charles Little, “Toward a Sacred Lands Policy Initiative” (postscript from Sacred Lands of Indian America)

Tom King, “‘Sacred Sites’ Protection: Be Careful What You Ask For

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Clay Scott, Mapping Our Places: Voices from the Indigenous Communities Mapping Initiative

Gary Snyder, “Good, Wild, Sacred” from The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Rina Swentzell, “An Understated Sacredness

Valerie Taliman, “Places of Power

Judith Todd, “The Hopi Environmental Ethos,” from Resource Handbook – Hopi: Songs of the Fourth World, edited and published by Pat Ferrero.

Sacred Lands

American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA)

Executive Order 13007 on Indian Sacred Sites (1996)

Ian Baker, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise

David L. Carmichael, Jane Hubert, Brian Reeves and Audhild Schanche, editors, Sacred Sites, Sacred Places

Andrew Gulliford, Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions

Martin Gray, Sacred Earth: Places of Peace and Power

Courtney Milne, Sacred Places in North America: A Journey into the Medicine Wheel

Rebecca Hind, Sacred Places: Sites of Spirituality & Faith

Peter Nabokov, Where the Lightning Strikes – The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places

Jake Page, editor, and Charles Little (foreword), Sacred Lands of Indian America

Darrell A. Posey (editor), Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity: A Complementary Contribution to the Global Biodiversity Assessment. The entire volume can be downloaded as a PDF file (25 MB) from United Nations Environment Programme.

Bas Verschuuren, Robert Wild, Jeff McNeely, Gonzalo Oviedo, eds., Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature & Culture

Native American Sacred Lands Forum Report – download the PDF file from the meeting co-sponsored by the Sacred Land Film Project in Boulder and Denver, Colorado, October 8-10, 2001.

The Sacred Land Reader – download 92-page pdf file, with six great essays, published by the Sacred Land Film Project.


Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang; Desert Solitaire

James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia

David James Duncan, “Who Owns the West?: Four Possible Answers” in The Sun (December 1998), p. 10-17.

Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain : A Novel

N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn; The Names; Way to Rainy Mountain

Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit; The Story of B

Leslie Marmon Silko, Storyteller; Ceremony

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island

Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Jean Toomer, Cane

Gerald Vizenor, The Heirs of Columbus

Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland


Thomas Buckley, Standing Ground: Yurok Indian Spirituality, 1850-1990

Richard O. Clemmer, Roads in the Sky: The Hopi Indians in a Century of Change

Alan Thein Durning, “Guardians of the Land: Indigenous Peoples and the Health of the Earth” (Worldwatch Paper 112, December 1992)

Steven Feld and Keith Basso, editors, Senses of Place

Joan Halifax, The Fruitful Darkness

Robert S. McPherson, Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners

Jean Molesky-Poz, Contemporary Maya Spirituality – The Ancient Ways Are Not Lost

Gary Paul Nabhan, Singing the Turtles to Sea: The Comcáac (Seri) Art and Science of Reptiles

Peter Nabokov, editor, Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-2000

Ronald Niezen, Spirit Wars: Native North American Religions in the Age of Nation Building

Alfonso Ortiz, Tewa World Space, Time, Being, and Becoming in a Pueblo Society

David Hurst Thomas, Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity

Joe Watkins, Indigenous Archaeology: American Indian Values and Scientific Practice

Peter Whiteley, Rethinking Hopi Ethnography

Science: Sacred Places and Biodiversity

F. Berkes, Sacred Ecology; Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Management

Kailash C. Malhotra, Yogesh Gokhale, Sudipto Chatterjee & Sanjeev Srivastava, Sacred Groves in India

Leslie E. Sponsel, Sacred Places and Biodiversity Conservation

Robert Wild and Christopher McLeod, eds., IUCN Best Practice Guidelines #16, Sacred Natural Sites: Guidelines for Protected Area Managers

World Wide Fund For Nature/Alliance of Religions and Conservation Report, Beyond Belief – Linking Faiths and Protected Areas For Biodiversity Conservation


David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World

Bill Devall and George Sessions, Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered

Mark Dowie, Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century

Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: When Protecting Nature Means Kicking People Out, Orion Magazine (Nov/Dec 2005)

Al Gedicks, Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations

Edward Goldsmith, The Way: An Ecological World-View

Ramachandra Guha, The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalya

Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability

Julia Butterfly Hill, The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

J. Donald Hughes, North American Indian Ecology

Shepard Krech III, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (for reviews of this controversial book, click here)

Winona LaDuke, All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, Recovering the Sacred – The Power of Naming and Claiming

Tara Lohan ed., Water Matters: Why We Need To Act Now To Save Our Most Critical Resource

Bill McKibben, The End of Nature, Eaarth

David Orr, Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect

Alice Outwater, Water: A Natural History

David Pearson and William McDonough, Earth to Spirit: In Search of Natural Architecture

Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomes, and Allen D. Kanner, editors, Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind

Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology; The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and Its Youthful Opposition; Person/Planet: The Creative Disintegration of Industrial Society

Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Bron Taylor and Jeffrey Kaplan, editors, The Encyclopedia Of Religion And Nature

Bron Taylor, Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future

Peter Van Wyck, Primitives in the Wilderness: Deep Ecology and the Missing Human Subject

Cultural Criticism–Theory

Carol J. Adams, editor, Ecofeminism and the Sacred

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands / La Frontera

Ward Churchill, Struggle for the Land : Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide, and Colonization; A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present

William Cronon, editor, Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature

Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian

Sam Harris, The End of Faith – Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

M. Annette Jaimes, editor, The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance (Race and Resistance)

Lucy Lippard, editor, Partial Recall: With Essays on Photographs of Native North Americans

Timothy Luke, Ecocritique: Contesting the Politics of Nature, Economy, and Culture

Jerry Mander, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations; Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

Jerry Mander and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Editors, Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization

Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

Peggy Roalf, editor, Strong Hearts: Native American Visions and Voices

Edward Said, Orientalism

Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge

Jack Turner, The Abstract Wild


Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Alan Brinkley, “The Troubled Search for an American National Identity,” in Ideas: from the National Humanities Center (Summer 1994), p. 40-44

Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Phillip Burnham, Indian Country, God’s Country: Native Americans and the National Parks

Evan S. Connell, Son of the Morning Star — Custer and the Little Bighorn, Cultural Survival Quarterly (Spring 2004) “Indigenous Lands or National Parks?”

William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

David Harmon and Allen Putney, editors, The Full Value of Parks: From Economics to the Intangible

Alice R. Hoveman, Journey to Justice – The Wintu People and the Salmon

Robert H. Keller and Michael F. Turek, American Indians & National Parks

Clara Sue Kidwell, “The Effects of Removal on American Indian Tribes” (National Humanities Center)

Edward Lazarus, Black Hills, White Justice: The Sioux Nation Versus the United States, 1775 to the Present

Patricia Nelson Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West; Something in the Soil: Legacies and Reckonings in the New West

Barry Lopez, The Rediscovery of North America, Arctic Dreams, Of Wolves and Men

Oren Lyons and John Mohawk, editors, Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations, and the U.S. Constitution

Davianna Pomaika’i McGregor, Na Kua ‘Aina: Living Hawaiian Culture

T.C. McLuhan, Touch the Earth: A Self Portrait of Indian Existence

Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe 1846-73

Charles C. Mann, 1491 – New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Malcolm Margolin, The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco Bay Area

Peter Matthiessen, Indian Country; In the Spirit of Crazy Horse; The Snow Leopard

John Mohawk, Utopian Legacies: A History of Conquest & Oppression in the Western World

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)

Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

Kirkpatrick Sale, The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy

Simon Schama, Landscape And Memory

Margaret Simons, The Meeting of the Waters: The Hindmarsh Island (Australia) Affair

Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860

Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West As Symbol and Myth

Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks

Susan Suntree, Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California

George E. Tinker, Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Cultural Genocide

Christopher Vecsey and Robert W. Venables, editors, American Indian Environments: Ecological Issues in Native American History

Sarah Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes

Jack Weatherford, Native Roots: How the Indians Enriched America

Charles Wilkinson, Fire on the Plateau: Conflict and Endurance in the American Southwest

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Religious Studies

Catherine L. Albanese, Nature Religion in America: From the Algonkian Indians to the New Age

Ian Baker (with an introduction by the Dalai Lama), The Heart Of The World: A Journey To The Last Secret Place

Christopher Key Chapple and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water

Walter Holden Capps, Seeing With a Native Eye: Essays on Native American Religion

Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred

Vine Deloria, Jr., For This Land: Writings on Religion in America; God Is Red; Custer Died for Your Sins; Spirit & Reason: The Vine Deloria, Jr., Reader

Susan Tyler Hitchcock with John L. Esposito, et al, Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk

Lee Irwin, editor, Native American Spirituality: A Critical Reader

G. M. Mullett, Spider Woman Stories: Legends of the Hopi Indians

Lance E. Nelson, editor, Purifying the Earthly Body of God – Religion and Ecology in Hindu India

James Treat, editor, Native and Christian?: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada

Political Science and The Law

Brian Edward Brown, Religion, Law, and the Land — Native Americans and the Judicial Interpretation of Sacred Lands. Greenwood Press, 1999

Lloyd Burton, Worship and Wilderness: Culture, Religion, and Law in the Management of Public Lands and Resources. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion

David Chidester and Edward T. Linenthal, editors, American Sacred Space

James A. Clifton, editor, The Invented Indian: Cultural Fictions and Government Policies

Michael Lee Ross, First Nations Sacred Sites in Canada’s Courts

(Read an excellent review by John D. Whyte, Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy, University of Regina, in The Law and Politics Book Review)

Christopher Vecsey, editor, Handbook of American Indian Religious Freedom

Jace Weaver, editor, Defending Mother Earth: Native American Perspectives on Environmental Justice

Socially Responsible Investment & Corporate Responsibility

Kevin Avruch, Culture & Conflict Resolution. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

David W. Augsburger, Conflict Mediation Across Cultures – Pathways and Patterns (1992). Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox Press.

Laurence Goldman, ed., Social Impact Analysis: An Applied Anthropology Manual (2000). Oxford, U.K.: Berg Press.

Green Money Journal (Spring 2003); Letter to the Editor (and Responses) featuring Paul Hawken and Amy Domini

Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Michelle LeBaron, Bridging Cultural Conflicts: A New Approach for a Changing World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

John Paul Lederach, The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Lisa Schirch, The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Julie Tanner, Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc., and Kimberly Gladman, Domini Social Investments: “Outside the Box – Guidelines for Retail Store Siting” (July 11, 2005)

Simon Zadek, The Civil Corporation: The New Economy of Corporate Citizenship. London: Earthscan Publications.

Howard Zehr and Barb Toews, ed., Critical Issues in Restorative Justice. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Law Review Articles

Brady, Joel, “‘Land Is Itself a Sacred, Living Being’: Native American Sacred Site Protection on Federal Public Lands Amidst the Shadows of Bear Lodge,” American Indian Law Review 24, No. 1: 153-86.

Burton, Lloyd and David Ruppert, “Bear’s Lodge or Devils Tower: Intercultural Relations, Legal Pluralism, and the Management of Sacred Sites on Public Lands” (1999); Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 8:2.

Collins, Richard B., “Sacred Sites and Religious Freedom on Government Land” (January 2003), Journal of Constitutional Law (Univ. of Pennsylvania), Volume 5, Number 2.

Cross, Raymond and Elizabeth Brenene, “Devils Tower at the Crossroads: The NPS and the Preservation of Native American Cultural in the 21st Century” (1997); 18 Public Land & Resources Law Review 5:9.

Cummings, Claire, “Sacred Landscapes from a Legal Persepective: Examples from the United States” in Sacred Lands (1998); edited by Jill Oakes. Occassional Publication No. 43, Canadian Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta.

Dusias, Allison, “Ghost Dance and the Holy Ghost: The Echoes of the 19th Century Christianization Policy in the 20th Century Native American Free Exercise Cases” (1997); 49 Stanford Law Review 773, p. 783-805.

Gordon, Sarah B., “Indian Religious Freedom and Governmental Development of Public Lands,” (1985); The Yale Law Journal 94 (6):1447-1471.

Grimm, Lydia T., “Sacred Lands and the Establishment Clause: Indian Religious Practices on Federal Lands” (1997); Natural Resources and Environment; 12(1): p. 19-78, American Bar Association Committee on Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law.

Hoynes, William, “Public Television and the Cultural Wars,” in The American Cultural Wars (1994); Boulder, Colorado: Westview.

King, Thomas, F., “What Burdens Religion? Musings on Two Recent Cases Interpreting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),”  (2010); Great Plains Natural Resources Journal, Spring 2010 Vol 13.

Linge, George, “Ensuring the Full Freedom of Religion on Public Lands: Devils Tower and the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites” (2000), Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, Volume 27, Number 2.

Loftin, John D., “Constitutional Law and American Indian Religious Freedom: A Tale of Two Worlds” (1994); American Indian Religions: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1:37-72.

McConnell, Michael W., “The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion,” Harvard Law Review, May 1990, Vol. 103, p. 1410-1517.

Michaelsen, Robert, “Sacred Land in America: What is It? How Can it be Protected?”; Religion (1986) 16, p. 249-268.

Michaelsen, Robert, “ ‘We Also Have a Religion.’ The Free Exercise of Religion Among Native Americans,” (1983); American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 7, Number 3, Summer 1983. (NAS, UC Berkeley).

Michaelsen, Robert, “Is the Miner’s Canary Silent? Implications of the Supreme Court’s Denial of American Indian Free Exercise of Religion Claims”(1988); Journal of Law and Religion (DTE) Vol. 697, p. 97-114.

Moore, Steven C., “Sacred Sites and Public Lands” (1993); in Handbook of American Indian Religious Freedom, edited by Christopher Vecsey, p. 81-99.

Suagee, Dean, “Tribal Voices in Historic Preservation: Sacred Landscapes, Cross-Cultural Bridges, and Common Ground” (1996); 21 Vermont Law Review, p. 145-164.

Tsosie, Rebecca, “Challenges to Sacred Site Protection” (2006), Denver University Law Review (Vol 83:4 – pages 963-980)

Vogel, Howard, “The Clash of Stories at Chimney Rock: A Narrative Approach to Cultural Conflict over Native American Sacred Sites on Public Land”, 41 Santa Clara Law Review 757 (2001).

Vogel, Howard, “Healing the Trauma of America’s Past: Restorative Justice, Honest Patriotism and the Legacy of Ethnic Cleansing” (2007) Buffalo Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 3

Williams, Roberts, “Large Binoculars, Telescopes, Red Squirrel Pinatas, and Apache Sacred Mountains: Decolonizing Environmental Law in a Multicultural World” (1996); 96 West Virginia Law Review 1133.

Winslow, Anastasia, “Sacred Standards: Honoring the Establishment Clause in Protecting Native American Sacred Sites” (1996); 38 Arizona Law Review 1291.

Yablon, Marcia, “Property rights and sacred sites: federal regulatory responses to American Indian religious claims on public land.” (PDF) Yale Law Journal (May 1, 2004).