Joseph Bruchac has edited numerous anthologies of Native stories and is the author of more than seventy books for adults and children. Books in his Keepers of the Earth series, coauthored with Michael Caduto, have sold millions of copies. Of mixed Abenaki heritage, he is a professional teller of traditional tales and has performed across Europe and North America. At The Edge of Ridge Road is a new book in Milkweed's Credo series, edited by Scott Slovic, in which acclaimed writers reveal the foundations of their work. In this philosophical memoir, Bruchac ponders the different views of time between Native peoples and whites. He tells the following tale which sets the tone of what follows:
"A New Englander friend of mine, John Moody, whose parents used to threaten him as a child by saying the Indians would come and take him away, has spent much of his adult life working as an advocate for Abenaki sovereignty and rights. John has a wonderful image of what it was like when the Puritans encountered the people of the Dawn Land: Two boats are in the river. In one boat are the Indians, lithely letting the flow carry them downstream, trailing their hands in the water, fishing as they float along, feeling the caress of the warm sun on their bare skin. In the other boat are the Puritans, heavily clothed from head to foot, sweating like crazy and paddling upstream against the current as hard as they can.
"The Puritans desperately wanted us all, Indian and European alike, to hear Time's winged chariot drawing near at our backs. Enough of lazing around, enough of hunting and fishing, gathering medicine plants and speaking prayers of thanksgiving, Enough of caring for elders and playing unhurriedly with the children, eating good food that does not make one sick, sleeping when tired, walking when one has rested long enough."
Whereas Westerners used clocks, Native peoples moved in sync with the rhythms of the seasons. Bruchac pays tribute to his grandparents who instilled within him a respect for all of life. He charts his path to Cornell University after a childhood in the Adirondacks, his studies there in zoology, his interest in poetry, his work in West Africa, his social justice activism, his work with literary magazines and his purchase of a dream house on Ridge Road that has great meaning for him. Throughout this autobiographical jaunt, Bruchac sheds light on various dimensions of Native American spirituality including reverence for place and for "the circle as a way of seeing." This paperback also includes a bibliography of Joseph Bruchac's work and a 33 page assessment of his output by Scott Slovik.