Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2004


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 2, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


This collaborative work by Mvskoke (Creek) medicine man David Lewis Jr. and Euro-American anthropologist Ann T. Jordan focuses on the heles-hayv tradition of medicine that Lewis's family has kept for generations through the forced relocation from the Southeast to the eastern margins of the southern Great Plains. Lewis's first-person narrative occupies the heart of the book: chapters titled "Kinds of Medicine People," "Selection of Medicine People," and "Memories of Childhood in a Medicine Family"; a chapter on the sacred story encoding much of the tradition's essential knowledge; chapters on vegetal pharmacopoeia, medical practices, and ceremonies; and a chapter titled "The Unseen Powers of Traditional Medicine." Preceding the narrative are a prologue by Lewis and a meaty preface, a tribal history, and a Lewis Family history, all coauthored. Following Lewis's narrative are three appendixes by Jordan: one tracing the ethnography and historiography of Mvskoke medicine, one comparing Lewis's narrative to written sources, and a diagram of Lewis's genealogy.