24 photographs, 4 maps, index
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[LaPier’s] book refreshingly is tied to her extended family, especially its women, instead of the generalized ‘Blackfoot’ of most outside ethnographers. Readable in style, [Invisible Reality] conveys the self-respect and confidence that paternalist governance and poverty could not defeat.—A. B. Kehoe, Choice
Rosalyn R. LaPier demonstrates that Blackfeet history is incomplete without an understanding of the Blackfeet people’s relationship and mode of interaction with the “invisible reality” of the supernatural world. Religious beliefs provided the Blackfeet with continuity through privations and changing times. The stories they passed to new generations and outsiders reveal the fundamental philosophy of Blackfeet existence, namely the belief that they could alter, change, or control nature to suit their needs and that they were able to do so with the assistance of supernatural allies. The Blackfeet did not believe they had to adapt to nature. They made nature adapt. Their relationship with the supernatural provided the Blackfeet with stability and made predictable the seeming unpredictability of the natural world in which they lived.
In Invisible Reality LaPier presents an unconventional, creative, and innovative history that blends extensive archival research, vignettes of family stories, and traditional knowledge learned from elders along with personal reflections on her own journey learning Blackfeet stories. The result is a nuanced look at the history of the Blackfeet and their relationship with the natural world.