Teaching Spirits offers a thematic approach to Native American religious traditions. Within the great multiplicity of Native American cultures, Joseph Epes Brown has perceived certain common themes that resonate within many Native traditions. He demonstrates how themes within native traditions connect with each other, at the same time upholding the integrity of individual traditions. Brown illustrates each of these themes with in-depth explorations of
specific native cultures including Lakota, Navajo, Apache, Koyukon, and Ojibwe. Brown demonstrates how Native American values provide an alternative metaphysics that stand opposed to modern materialism. He shows how these spiritual values provide material for a serious rethinking of modern attitudes - especially
toward the environment - as well as how they may help non-native peoples develop a more sensitive response to native concerns. Throughout, he draws on his extensive personal experience with Black Elk, who came to symbolize for many the greatness of the imperiled native cultures.