Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch: A Traditional Medical Practice in the Modern World (Pennsylvania German History and Culture)

Known in Pennsylvania Dutch as brauche or braucherei, the folk-healing practice of powwowing was thought to draw upon the power of God to heal all manner of physical and spiritual ills. Yet some people believed, and still believe today, that this power to heal came not from God, but from the devil. Controversy over powwowing came to a climax in 1929 with the York Hex Murder Trial, in which one powwower from York County, Pennsylvania, killed another powwower (who, he believed, had placed a hex on him).

In Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, David Kriebel examines the practice of powwowing in a scholarly light and shows that, contrary to popular belief, the practice of powwowing is still active today. Because powwowing lacks extensive scholarly documentation, David Kriebel’s research is both a groundbreaking inquiry and a necessity for the scholar of Pennsylvania German history and culture.

The fact that powwowing is still practiced may come as a surprise to some readers, but included in this book are the interviews Kriebel had with living powwowers during his seven years of fieldwork in southeastern and central Pennsylvania. Along with these interviews, Kriebel includes biographical sketches of seven living powwowers; descriptions of powwowing as it was practiced in years past, compared with the practice today; a discussion of the belief of powwowing as healing; and a discussion of the future, if any, of powwowing, and what it will take for powwowing to continue to survive.

Customer Review: Excellent!

I have almost finished Mr. Kriebel’s book and have found it to be scholarly and yet quite readable. His examination of this American shamanic tradition in it’s Pennsylvania setting is accurate and respectful to the tradition and its practioners.

How do I know? I have read about, studied and practiced Powwow for over thirty years and have written on the subject myself for academic and popular sources. If you really want to understand the history, social culture and practice of Powwow, read this book. Especially interesting are the interviews with actual Powwows and others involved in the practice. The research is well-documented for those of us who enjoy reading and checking the footnotes. Every library should have a copy.

This book is destined to becomne a classic! Well done!

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