An underlying concern with the absence of spiritual values in contemporary American society informs this book, a collection of essays on Native American life. In our world, where "the life of the intellect and the life of the spirit grow apart, terrible things become possible," writes Joseph Bruchac in his introduction. The book title, a phrase from a traditional Navajo chant, serves as shorthand for what the authors think our society must learn from the Indians: to see ourselves as a part of nature, not as her master. By way of stressing the practical value of accepting Indian teachings about "becoming part of it," Bruchac reports that the Iroquois prophet Handsome Lake spoke of a time when the maple, the "leader tree of the woodlands," would begin to die from the top down; this would be a sign that the end of the world was approaching. Bruchac notes that maples all over New England are in fact dying from the top down, as a result of the greenhouse effect.