The Way of the Pipe: Aboriginal Spirituality and Symbolic Healing in Canadian Prisons
Published: May 1997© 1997
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 233 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
233 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.54 in
Prisons are an ominous fact of life for too many Aboriginal people. The Way of the Pipe explores how Aboriginal spirituality is finding its way into prisons and the role it is playing with Aboriginal inmates seeking to regain and to promote their heritages and identities.The book starts from the premise that this spirituality is not simply "religion" but is a form of therapy, know to medical anthropologists as "symbolic healing." Working from the results of hundreds of interviews with inmates in a number of prisons, Waldram traces the history of Aboriginal spirituality in and out of prison populations. Ironically, it is in prison that many come face to face with spiritual traditions such as the sweat lodge for the first time. The book looks critically at incarceration practices which have not always made it easy for inmates to explore their spiritual heritage. At the same time, it asks tough questions about whether this spiritual "therapy" actually makes a difference.
Written in a highly accessible style, The Way of the Pipe combines scholarly perspectives with extensive narratives from the Elders and inmates to provide a unique understanding of the issues of symbolic healing and prison rehabilitation. It forces us to reconsider the goals and methods of prison treatment, especially for Aboriginal inmates. And on a broader level, it offers insight into the cultural divide between communities both behind the walls and beyond.
Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the Native Brotherhood at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (Praries) in Saskatoon.
A Story of Trauma, Healing and Transformation
- Rediscovering the Pipe
- Incarceration and Aboriginal Inmates
- Trauma, Racism, and Identity
- Aboriginal Spirituality and Symbolic Healing
- Following the Pipe: Elders and Spiritual Leaders
- Finding the Way: Inmate Experiences
- Obstacles and Detours
- Case Studies in Spirituality and Healing
- "But Does it Work?"
The Story Continues
Too many Aboriginal men in Canada and the United States spend time in prison. Those of us who have taught in those institutions are grateful for this important book which, in documenting spirituality and survival, gives hope for prison reform. The Way of the Pipe makes a notable contribution to the social sciences and it is a tribute to Aboriginal cultures and their adaptive strategies.Beatrice Medicine, Ph.D. Emerita, California State University