The Reluctant Pilgrim


The Reluctant Pilgrim

A Skeptic's Journey into Native Mysteries

Roger Welsch

296 pages


May 2015


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eBook (EPUB)
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May 2015


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2015


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Forty years ago, while paging through a book sent as an unexpected gift from a friend, Roger Welsch came across a curious reference to stones that were round, “like the sun and moon.” According to Tatonka-ohitka, Brave Buffalo (Sioux), these stones were sacred. “I make my request of the stones and they are my intercessors,” Brave Buffalo explained. Moments later, another friend appeared at Welsch’s door bearing yet another unusual gift: a perfectly round white stone found on top of a mesa in Colorado. So began Welsch’s lesson from stones, gifts that always presented themselves unexpectedly: during a walk, set aside in an antique store, and in the mail from complete strangers.


The Reluctant Pilgrim shares a skeptic’s spiritual journey from his Lutheran upbringing to the Native sensibilities of his adoptive families in both the Omaha and Pawnee tribes. Beginning with those round stones, increasing encounters during his life prompted Welsch to confront a new way of learning and teaching as he was drawn inexorably into another world. Confronting mainstream contemporary culture’s tendency to dismiss the magical, mystical, and unexplained, Welsch shares his personal experiences and celebrates the fact that even in our scientific world, “Something Is Going On,” just beyond our ken.

Author Bio

Roger Welsch is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is a former essayist for CBS News Sunday Morning and the author of more than forty books, including Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe, available from Bison Books.


“Roger Welsch let himself be engulfed by the world Native people know and was swallowed whole in the waters of its deep and ageless sea. The Reluctant Pilgrim tells the stories of some of the things that have happened as a result. And it shows that the Spirits chose wisely when they tagged Roger Welsch as their own.”—Dawn Hill Adams, member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and co-president, senior scientist, and founder of Tapestry Institute

Table of Contents



1. A Lesson from Stones

2. Lessons from People Who Know

3. A Lesson from Elders

4. Early Lessons

5. Definitions and Distinctions

6. The Lesson of the Skulls

7. Resistance to the Irresistible

8. The Lesson of the Dolmen

9. A Lesson from the Pipe

10. The Lesson of the Feather

11. The Dubious Eye of Coyote

12. A Lesson from Poop

13. The Pilgrim

14. Establishing a Cosmic Buffer Zone

15. A Lesson from Touching the Fire

16. Lessons from the Zealot

17. Lessons from Real Shock and Awe

18. Lessons of Hubris

19. Lessons from Mother Corn and Father Buffalo

20. Lessons from the Nahurac

21. Where Lessons Are Lost

22. Lessons of Place

23. Lessons from Lines

24. Lessons from the Fourth Hill

25. Lessons from Lessons

26. Lessons from the Muse

27. Lessons from the Power

28. A Lesson from Prayer

29. Still More Lessons from Lessons

30. Lessons in Brief

The Lessons of Others: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography

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