Neither Wolf nor Dog chosen for 2015 Common Book at University of Minnesota

I have just been informed that Neither Wolf nor Dog has been selected as the 2015 Common Book for incoming freshmen in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.  It will be a core reading in their intensive First Year Inquiry course.

This announcement comes just weeks before I travel to Alexandria, Minnesota, where Neither Wolf nor Dog is their Community Reads selection.

The Wolf at Twilight has already been used as the Common Book for freshmen at Gustavus Adolfus College, and it is my hope that some college or community will soon select The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo as their Common Book or Community Reads choice.

I am always both gratified and excited when any of the three “Dan” books gets public exposure.  They are, to be sure, meant to be enjoyable reading.  But it is more important to me that they are understood as teaching stories.  We need to reenvision our American historical narrative and give the point of view of our land’s first peoples a more prominent place.  I think that these three books help in that effort.

But even more, the values and vision of the Native peoples need to be reintegrated into our philosophical understanding.  Though it is almost a cliche, now, more than ever, we need to internalize their long-held understanding that we are a part of nature, and not apart from her.

I go back to the words of the elder who told me, “Always teach by stories, because stories lodge deep in the heart.”

These three books teach by stories.  It is my most fervent hope that they make their way into colleges and universities and other situations where people’s minds are shaped.  These Common Book and Community Reads selections are a good start.  May these literary children of mine continue to find their voice and make their way.


17 thoughts on “Neither Wolf nor Dog chosen for 2015 Common Book at University of Minnesota”

  1. CONGRATULATIONS Kent !! That is wonderful news and I’m sure they will love it just as much as all of us out here !! I still treasure those books… I’ve read Neither Wolf Nor Dog twice now…and will probably do the same with the other 2 !!
    Great news !!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS! I want to express my appreciation and am delighted for you. “The story” behind the presentations in your books, will be well received by students and general readership alike. It took us awhile to convey to our supervisors and managers in industry, that by putting and telling the story behind their training message, would build a core of concern and dedication within the work group. Far beyond the traditional, “because I said so,” or “because I am the boss.” Which I always explained the “boss” is double s o b backwards. Anyway, have enjoyed your books. Keep up the great work! Becoming the instrument of “bridging the gap”is what St. Francis referred to as being “An instrument of Peace.” God bless you and your family.


    Congratulations Kent, as a graduate if the College of Education and Human Development, I couldn’t be more excited and proud.


  4. Kent,

    This is great news. I and another instructor have used “Neither Wolf nor Dog” as texts and they have been well received by our students. But I have not thought of using this as a common text for our freshmen students. What a great idea! I will work on making this happen for us. As you say in your post, “We need to reenvision our American historical narrative and give the point of view of our land’s first peoples a more prominent place.” I so agree with this. Why is it that this is often the narrative that gets left out of so many conversations? Thank you for your post. I will keep you updated on what happens next at our school.

  5. Deborah Nerburn

    Hi Kent,

    Exciting news! What a blessing your writing brings to so many. Stay in touch!



  6. I have my church book club reading Neither Wolf Nor Dog as an introduction to you and your books. I’ve also requested an opportunity to meet with a small group of “do gooders” at church who want to “help” Pine Ridge Reservation . Their “help” wasn’t requested and I”m pushing for a training session that includes learning how to listen to hear what is needed. I visited PRIR 3 yrs ago and learned more by observing and listening. Thank you for your knowledge of Pine Ridge and your passion with the Oglala Lakota , it’s become my passion also.

  7. You are a wise person, Toni. There is just a whiff of “designer fascination” about many of the efforts to “help” Pine Ridgers. It’s not just the issue of “helping,” which invariably speaks of people with good hearts even though there are obviously unexamined preconceptions behind the very notion. The issue that needs to be confronted is, “Why Pine Ridge?” Why not a group of people in your own home town, or, if you must seek out a reservation, why not the Gros Ventres in Montana or Ojibwe in Wisconsin? Folks need to look in a mirror before traipsing out to a reservation –especially Pine Ridge — whether invited or uninvited. Usually it is at least as much for themselves and their own needs as for the people at the destination, none of whom they even know.

    “Why Pine Ridge?” That is the question.

  8. Congratulations! Your books, with guidance from Dan, Grover and others, provide us all with fresh thinking and knowledge of and relationships with Native Peoples we would not otherwise come in contact with. The journey I have been taking while reading your three Dan books is very moving (currently reading The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo). I am so pleased to hear that these three books are reaching young people at a time when they are so open to new thinking. Please, keep up the great work, your words are so valuable.

  9. Shawn O'Rourke Gilbert

    After absorbing as much insight from this trilogy as I could with first reads, my immediate thought was that every high school should have them on required reading lists. College is good, but earlier is even better. I’m sure that first having the experience of these extraordinary books is the reason I am now so enchanted with Matthew Fox’s “Creation Spirituality, Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.” My heart belongs to teachers like Kent Nerburn and Matthew Fox; my gratitude surpasses words.

  10. Thank you, Shawn. I agree with you about younger learners, and there are many schools around the country that are using these three books in curricula for high schoolers and even middle schoolers. In fact, I am making plans to talk to several high school groups while I am back in Minnesota. What needs to happen is for parents and concerned adults to get these books in the hands of curriculum designers. I invite anyone to help in this task. The story of Native America and the gifts their ways have to offer needs to be told.

  11. Pingback: Neither Wolf nor Dog chosen for 2015 Common Book at University of Minnesota | 2012: What's the 'real' truth?

  12. Kent,

    Congratulations! I am a new reader to your work and am in love! I started with “The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo” and am working my backwards. These were gifts from Christmas and by far the best present! I have over 200 books on Native American culture, history and current affairs and am excited to add these to the collection!

    I look forward to reading more of your books. Congrats again!

  13. Hi Kent ! You don’t have to post this if you don’t want but I just wanted to reply to you about what you said about ‘why Pine Ridge’ and it got me thinking a lot….I went to Pine Ridge about 7 years ago with car loaded with clothes for the women’s shelter….you said to Toni– ‘why Pine Ridge’… Well I had one personal reason, being that my great grandma was Lakota (I know, I know they hate when you say that but it’s true LOL) and I wanted to feel like I was helping out, and I ‘do’ admit I must have had a morbid curiosity about what I’ve heard about the poverty there. That’s a hard thing to admit actually but I realized it was true. And do you know when I realized it ? I took many pictures of the land there… and of Wounded Knee, but as I raised the camera to take a picture of one of the run-down neighborhoods, I actually COULD NOT ! I put down the camera… I came home with not one picture of where they live–the poverty…. it seemed so disrespectful and I didn’t realize it till the MOMENT I raised my camera.
    I don’t even know if that’s what you were referring to, but I just wanted to share that with you.
    I also came to the realization that the best way to help the people in Pine Ridge or any poor area is to teach them ‘to help themselves’. I also realized that is ‘easier said than done ‘ in Pine Ridge. When I came home and talked about my trip to friends ALL of them said ‘why don’t they just get jobs’ LOL LOL
    I don’t even have to explain to you, Kent, what I said to them about that situation!
    Anyway, I brought all of the clothes to the women’s shelter, and the girl who took them didn’t even say ‘thank you’ to me…. at the time I was slightly insulted … well later as I read ‘more’ and ‘understood more’ I realized that the Native Americans give to others –even when they have ‘nothing to give’… It’s how they live… and I have never felt so ‘white’ and ‘ignorant’ as I did on that trip. I came to realize they give ‘without expecting a thank you even when they are giving you or sharing with you the last bit of food they may have for a week’…. We are so different in the white world in ‘how we think’ it’s amazing.
    Anyway all those thoughts came into my head when I read your post to Toni… about your ‘designer fascination’ comment. I still have no answers, but I started asking myself a lot more questions after leaving there.

  14. Congratulations! I hope the movie, , will have a broad showing, and I hope that movies on and will be a follow-ups.

    I live in a 6.26 sq. mile area of Clackamas County called the Stafford Hamlet, unincorporated territory surrounded by Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Tualatin. A few well-funded developers who speculated in our area’s land, are trying to force the area into “urban reserve” and eventually the Urban Growth Boundary, packing in 27,000 people, 17,000 more cars into the northern part alone. We have been fighting this battle for decades. As I read your trilogy and as I read , I couldn’t help but wonder if, in some measure, this is what the Native Americans felt like as the settlers scooped up their land and staked out property, then proceeded to take more than they needed, drain resources, cause erosion, and drive out the scenic beauty, livability, and quality of life in the area.

    I am so glad you are close. I would love to hear you speak. Portland State has begun a wonderful undergraduate program in Native American history and culture, and Cully Part is an exciting project in the Portland community. In the Stafford Hamlet, we have begun an Hazelia Agri-cultural Heritage Trail project, which, we hope, will also embrace the past Native American culture in our area. I hope it can also bridge the future.

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