The life and healing practices of a Muskogee Creek medicine man who seems never to have met a disease he couldn’t cure. A general reader must suspend disbelief and patiently endure grandfatherly lectures throughout this book, coauthored by Larkin, a white woman who experienced a spiritual rebirth under Bear Heart’s tutelage. As a young disciple, Bear Heart underwent training rituals that included trooping through a nest of rattlesnakes and lying on an anthill. He also became adept in using traditional healing tools, including a wide repertoire of chants, an eagle feather upon which he blows when ministering to sick patients, the Sacred Pipe, and peyote, which only recently was legally permitted for use by practitioners of the Native American Church. In his long tenure as medicine man, Bear Heart claims to have cured earaches, tubercular-like illnesses, poisonings, and paralysis, often after Western medicine had failed. In addition, he was able to produce snow for a Colorado ski resort and cause choking fits from a distance in those with evil intentions. In the main, however, one can read this as a homily-filled discourse on leading a healthy and happy existence. Among his admonitions are to remain humble, have respect for elders, laugh frequently, be respectful of the natural environment, avoid blaming others for one’s situation, and other tried-and-true strategies. The book is forever in danger of meandering into areas best left untouched, such as bear psychology (“Mostly they use telepathy to communicate”) and anthropology (“It’s possible that the Hebrews were here in North America first and then traveled to Israel”), but the writers maintain such a consistently sincere tone that the uncritical reader readily forgives Bear Heart’s leaps into the unknown. In sum, one can read this in lieu of spending an evening with a well-meaning but long-winded relative or use it, sparingly, as a resouce for insight into traditional Native American practices. — Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.