Thoreau’s Focus on American Indians to be Revealed at Aspen Seminar


Last Updated: 19 years

Edited by Christopher Simmons

ASPEN, Colo. – May 16 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — “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 will be 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., will introduce highlights of Henry’s 12 “Indian Notebooks,” which he said, “includes 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.”

To be held at a Rocky Mountain wildlife preserve in the heart of Aspen, the
seminar is 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

“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 evolutionary film series 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 (Maine); 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 will run as part of a series of events being held in
conjunction with the photography exhibit “Rhythms of Creation: A Family’s
Impressions of Indigenous Peoples of the World,” which will hang 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 are 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.


June 3-5, 2005


Aspen, Colorado


For Seminar Information and Registration go


This news release was donated to the NVF by Neotrope/Send2Press, who is
proud to help support worthwhile non-profit organizations.

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