Henry David Thoreau and the Evolution of the American Mind: The Next Step. A Tapestry of Ideas.
"Why, then, make so great ado about the Roman and the Greek, and neglect the Indian?," wrote Henry David Thoreau in his Journal in 1857. A missing piece of what shaped this icon and American consciousness was revealed at a weekend seminar in Aspen, Colorado June 3-5, 2005, entitled "Thoreau and the Evolution of the American Mind: The Next Step." Thoreau scholar, Bradley P. Dean, Ph.D., introduced highlights of Henry's 12 "Indian Notebooks," which he said, "included just under 4,000 manuscript pages, probably to write a book he did not live to publish." They reveal how Thoreau was intrigued by American Indians since his boyhood, and how this involvement influenced his philosophy, according to Native Voices Foundation (NVF).
"America's most beloved disobedient," says NVF's Suzy Chaffee, "Thoreau inspired such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and free spirits around the world."
Held at a Rocky Mountain wildlife preserve in the heart of Aspen, the seminar was based on ideas illuminated in the 5-part film series: "The American Evolution: Voices of America." Produced and directed by Connie Baxter Marlow and Scott W. Snare, the film series also explores: The significance of Thoreau's life-changing experience on Mt. Katahdin in Maine, which helped form his mystical, transcendental philosophy, and how this expanded reality relates to the American Indian's understanding of the nature of the universe. The films also revisit his timely essay, "Civil Disobedience," out of which we may find insights to take the next step in consciousness.
"According to Ralph Waldo Emerson," states Dean, "Thoreau's personal heroes were three men: Poet Walt Whitman, abolitionist John Brown, and Penobscot Chief Joe Polis, who served as Thoreau's guide to the Maine woods in the summer of 1857. Polis was able to tell the botanist a medicinal use for every plant he could show him. What also fascinated Thoreau, was how Polis flourished in both worlds, embodying a synthesis of white and Native American cultures - living in a beautiful house on Maine's Indian Island, while thriving in the wilderness and being an effective leader. Thoreau leveraged the strengths and insights of native peoples to improve upon the emerging new American culture. Folks will also be surprised that Thoreau was also a top ethnologist of his time, and the study of the Algonquin Indians was his primary scientific focus."
"The American Evolution: Voices of America" was shot on location in Concord, Massachusetts, and New York City, and features Thoreau through interpreter Richard Smith; Arnie Neptune, Penobscot Tribal Elder; Imam Feisal Rauf, American Muslim; Kyriacos Markides, Greek American author/sociologist; the mystical Mt. Katahdin; Dean, Marlow and others. Together they weave a tapestry of ideas from which a new way of thinking may emerge. "Thoreau respected and experienced the land like an American Indian," said Neptune. "He is a model of the white part of the four colors of humanity, each with a purpose, now coming together to heal ourselves and Mother Earth."
"Thoreau is taking us to the next step," declares Marlow. "Just as his essay, 'Civil Disobedience,' changed the world in the political arena through Gandhi and King, I believe the time is ripe for Thoreau's mystical experiences to come to light."
The seminar ran as part of a series of events held in conjunction with the photography exhibit "Rhythms of Creation: A Family's Impressions of Indigenous Peoples of the World," which will hung in Aspen's Red Brick Center for the Arts throughout June. "With this exhibit and events we explore the evolution of the 'American Mind' from a new perspective to find a pathway to those elusive 'inalienable' rights of peace, life, liberty and happiness, which a combination of American Indian and European vision promised in the American Constitution," says Marlow.
These events were co-sponsored by Native Voices Foundation, a Colorado 501(c)3 non-profit partnership, which inspires U.S. ski communities to welcome their tribes back to their beloved ancestral mountains to ski, snowboard and share their earth-honoring culture, and Friends of Earth People, Marlow's foundation, which has been creating forums for visionary Elders to share their understanding of the nature of the Universe since 1991. Part of the seminar fee is a tax-deductible donation to NVF.
Henry David Thoreau's Life-Long Fascination with the American Indian and Life-Changing "Epiphany" on Mt. Katahdin was explored June 3,4,5 2005 during a seminar in Aspen, Colorado.
Connie Baxter Marlow, filmmaker, led a two-day seminar based on the ideas elucidated in the film series: The American Evolution: Voices of America.
Bradley P. Dean, Ph.D., Thoreau Scholar and Editor introduced Thoreau's unpublished "Indian Notebooks", will discuss Thoreau's "epiphany" on Mt. Katahdin and Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience".
Henry David Thoreau contributed significantly to the evolution of the "American Spirit" and the "American Mind" with his life and writings, inspiring such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and the free spirit in all who have come in contact with his ideas.
This seminar addressed the significance of two little-known aspects of Thoreau's life to the future of America and human consciousness: His interest in and involvement with the Native American Indian, and his life-changing "epiphany" on Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
Henry David Thoreau described himself as "...a mystic, a transcendentalist and a natural philosopher...". These traits led him on a unique journey through life. He was very public about many aspects of his life and thinking and his followers have been inspired by the legacy he shared in his prolific writing. This seminar discussed the significance of certain aspects of his life which have generally escaped notice to date, and their contribution to the thinking and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau and the evolution of America: Thoreau's life-long interest in the true nature of the American Indian, his mystical vision into the nature of reality and his pivotal essay "Civil Disobedience". These were discussed in depth as they relate to the application of the founding principles of America to everyday life.
The American Evolution: Voices of America Series
features Henry David Thoreau through interpreter Richard Smith; Bradley P. Dean, Ph.D., Thoreau Scholar and Editor; Arnie Neptune, Penobscot Tribal Elder;
Imam Feisal Rauf, American Muslim Imam; Kyriacos Markides, Greek American author/sociologist; Mt. Katahdin, mystical mountain; Connie Baxter Marlow, author/photographer/filmmaker and others. features Henry David Thoreau through interpreter Richard Smith; Bradley P. Dean, Ph.D., Thoreau Scholar and Editor; Arnie Neptune, Penobscot Tribal Elder; Imam Feisal Rauf, American Muslim Imam; Kyriacos Markides, Greek American author/sociologist; Mt. Katahdin, mystical mountain; Connie Baxter Marlow, author/photographer/filmmaker and others.
The seminar was held as part of a series of events in conjunction with the photography exhibit: "Rhythms of Creation: A Family's Impressions of Indigenous Peoples of the World. An Exhibit of Images and Ideas", featuring the photography of Jack Baxter, Connie Baxter Marlow, Alison Baxter Marlow and Andrew Cameron Bailey.
Indian relics abound in Concord...These, and every circumstance touching the Indian, were important in his (Thoreau's) eyes. His visits to Maine were chiefly for love of the Indian . Ralph Waldo Emerson. Eulogy for Henry David Thoreau, Concord, Massachuesetts. May 9, 1862.
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau's personal pantheon of heroes consisted of three men: the poet Walt Whitman, the abolitionist John Brown, and the Penobscot chief Joe Polis, who served as Thoreau's guide to the Maine woods in the summer of 1857. Emerson was too modest to point out that he had himself been Thoreau's lifelong mentor. Bradley P. Dean, Ph.D .