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No word for time: The way of the Algonquin people [Paperback]

Evans Pritchard
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 12 2001
No Word for Time has garnered superlatives from reviewers and influentual Native American figures, who have declared it one of the finest books on Native American spirituality ever written. Evan Pritchard, a descendent of the Micmac people (part of the Algonquin nations), aimed to learn more about his own native traditions through studying the language of the Algonquin, the key to their worldview: "They don't write in metaphor, they speak it; they don't recite poetry, they live it." The tribes collectively named "Algonquin" once occupied large stretches of North America, and their influence on our culture is vast. This edition includes a new index and afterword; a pronunciation key to the Algonquin language; a comprehensive map of the Algonquin world; a list of the major Algonquin nations and what they call themselves; and the Seven Points of Respect for Native American Ceremonies.

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About the Author

Evan T. Pritchard is a descendant of the Miramichi branch of the Alqonquin Micmac people. The author of a wide variety of books, Evan is the founder of The Center for Algonquin Culture, and is currently Professor of Native American history at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he also teaches philosophy.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Evan T. Pritchard is of Micmac heritage, and he felt a passionate need to learn the ways of his ancestors. Which is why he went and found himself a Native Micmac teacher. This book is an attempt to explain to the rest of us some of what he learned, with special emphasis on the spiritual. I think it is particularly successful at helping us begin to grasp the traditional Native worldview.
This book is not written linearly, like a novel. It touches on a subject, circles around it for a while, and then comes back to address the same subject again in more depth. Micmac prayers move in this manner, circularly. And the rhythms of the earth and of traditional Native life are similary cyclical, moving around a center rather than progressing linearly like our concept of time from the past to an isolated future.
In response to a previous reviewer: Lack of linear time does not equal "primitive". On the contrary, I believe the author is actually trying to show us how much more *sophisticated* the Micmac view of life is than ours. If their sophistication is linguistic, spiritual, and philosophical rather than technological, then in my mind that makes it just that much more important.
This book seeks to immerse us in the worldview of a people whose wisdom we have long ignored, but that we now very much need. And it succeeds in this far better than any other book I have read. Rather than simply teaching us intellectually about the Micmac approach to life and spirituality, it helps us feel what it is like to see the world through Micmac eyes.
I highly recommend this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I expected May 14 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read and ordered Now Word for time, thinking it might be a scientific Anthropological study. Perhaps this pre-conception colored my judgement, because what I read seemed to be a philosophy book with which borders on New Age spiritualism.
The author describes his experiences study Algonquin traditions and makes several general statements on how the "Elders" act and feel. Many of these statements are so absolute, It makes me wonder... Do all the 'elder's' act/feel this way? What is the origin and purpose of these traditions? Is there a difference between the philosophy of the elders based on Gender? What about Gender rolls in Algonquin society? How do the non-elders feel? I was left curious about this.
Second, while I enjoyed some of the stories, I felt the author may leap to some conclusions based on experiences with a small group of people. Saying: "All Algonquin's behave a certain way-," is like saying: all Anglos eat fried rice on Tuesday..." it just seemed to generalized for me.
Third, I didn't really care for the first-person narrative: the author writes throughout the book "I have seen-" or "I-went" Or, "I did this." It just didn't seem to have the same impact as a third-person narrative.
Fourth: there was a distinct absence of footnotes, in the text. Chapters were slurred together with no particular order or purpose. Chapters starting off at the end of the paragraph of a previous chapter. I found this distracting.
Fifth: Finally, there is a certain 'pseudo-science' which I think can be misleading in this book. The author starts speculating that early native peoples were Neanderthal-like in appearance is incorrect.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book if you're a linguist... Feb. 19 2003
Format:Paperback
The linguistics in this book are painfully bad. This guy knows nothing about Algonquian languages and can't even keep straight which one he's talking about. (There are more than 20, and each one is different. Algonquian is a language family like Indo-European. And by the way, the Mi'kmaq are NOT part of the Algonquin nation!) A Mohican man told me the author had made up some of the stuff in this book, despite some Mohicans trying to correct him. I believe it.
Of course, the book is mostly about spirituality, not linguistics, and that part may be much more valid. I wouldn't know--personally, I was too put off by the errors to finish the thing. If you don't care about languages you may like this book anyway. The writing style seems interesting. I just couldn't get past the gross inaccuracies in the one part I already knew something about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn to understand a traditional Native world view Jan. 27 2003
By Rina Stevens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Evan T. Pritchard is of Micmac heritage, and he felt a passionate need to learn the ways of his ancestors. Which is why he went and found himself a Native Micmac teacher. This book is an attempt to explain to the rest of us some of what he learned, with special emphasis on the spiritual. I think it is particularly successful at helping us begin to grasp the traditional Native worldview.
This book is not written linearly, like a novel. It touches on a subject, circles around it for a while, and then comes back to address the same subject again in more depth. Micmac prayers move in this manner, circularly. And the rhythms of the earth and of traditional Native life are similary cyclical, moving around a center rather than progressing linearly like our concept of time from the past to an isolated future.
In response to a previous reviewer: Lack of linear time does not equal "primitive". On the contrary, I believe the author is actually trying to show us how much more *sophisticated* the Micmac view of life is than ours. If their sophistication is linguistic, spiritual, and philosophical rather than technological, then in my mind that makes it just that much more important.
This book seeks to immerse us in the worldview of a people whose wisdom we have long ignored, but that we now very much need. And it succeeds in this far better than any other book I have read. Rather than simply teaching us intellectually about the Micmac approach to life and spirituality, it helps us feel what it is like to see the world through Micmac eyes.
I highly recommend this book.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I expected May 14 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read and ordered Now Word for time, thinking it might be a scientific Anthropological study. Perhaps this pre-conception colored my judgement, because what I read seemed to be a philosophy book with which borders on New Age spiritualism.
The author describes his experiences study Algonquin traditions and makes several general statements on how the "Elders" act and feel. Many of these statements are so absolute, It makes me wonder... Do all the 'elder's' act/feel this way? What is the origin and purpose of these traditions? Is there a difference between the philosophy of the elders based on Gender? What about Gender rolls in Algonquin society? How do the non-elders feel? I was left curious about this.
Second, while I enjoyed some of the stories, I felt the author may leap to some conclusions based on experiences with a small group of people. Saying: "All Algonquin's behave a certain way-," is like saying: all Anglos eat fried rice on Tuesday..." it just seemed to generalized for me.
Third, I didn't really care for the first-person narrative: the author writes throughout the book "I have seen-" or "I-went" Or, "I did this." It just didn't seem to have the same impact as a third-person narrative.
Fourth: there was a distinct absence of footnotes, in the text. Chapters were slurred together with no particular order or purpose. Chapters starting off at the end of the paragraph of a previous chapter. I found this distracting.
Fifth: Finally, there is a certain 'pseudo-science' which I think can be misleading in this book. The author starts speculating that early native peoples were Neanderthal-like in appearance is incorrect. No neanderthals migrated to the American continent at all, and there is no scientific evidence to suggest that Native American's appeared any different in their physical aspects than other Early native peoples.
Overall, I recommend this book for fans of the metaphysical, who don't mind a 'stream of consciousness' style narration, and a certain lack of scientific perspective.
In conclusion, while I enjoyed aspects of "No Word For Time" I would use this book as a reference with caution.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary June 9 2007
By Robert Kall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Pritchard's book is quite extraordinary. We learn that We the People is English for the commonly used Algonquin word ulnuq and that the phrase, walk your talk is also of Algonquin derivation. This is a book worth digesting and trying some of the ideas on for size.

The book talks about the wisdom and philosophy of the Algonquin people. Author Evan Pritchard, founder of the Center for Algonquin Culture, tells how, while there is no word for time, for minutes, hours, etc., time is described by the passage of and interaction with events. First creek freeze day is new years day.

Cranberry moon is "the time" when the cranberries ripen.

How long will it take? Until it is finished.

He writes how the Algonquin, his ancestral tribe-- the Mic Mac-- characterized the time keeping device as Captain Clock" because it controls you and dictates to you how you live.

I like the way he weaves and compares eastern philosophies and alternate approaches to awareness with his sharing of the indigenous American way.

After reading this book, I went out side and looked at the world a bit differently, more thankfully. That's more than I expect from the average book and something to be grateful for.

This is a book I'll be going back to again and again.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book if you're a linguist... Feb. 19 2003
By Laura Redish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The linguistics in this book are painfully bad. This guy knows nothing about Algonquian languages and can't even keep straight which one he's talking about. (There are more than 20, and each one is different. Algonquian is a language family like Indo-European. And by the way, the Mi'kmaq are NOT part of the Algonquin nation!) A Mohican man told me the author had made up some of the stuff in this book, despite some Mohicans trying to correct him. I believe it.
Of course, the book is mostly about spirituality, not linguistics, and that part may be much more valid. I wouldn't know--personally, I was too put off by the errors to finish the thing. If you don't care about languages you may like this book anyway. The writing style seems interesting. I just couldn't get past the gross inaccuracies in the one part I already knew something about.
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful and profound May 6 2014
By post modern - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a wonderful read, a book that is informative and inspirational and inspires meditation and reflection. Should be required reading for every student.
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