Guided by the Spirits: The Meanings of Life, Death, and Youth Suicide in an Ojibwa Community, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Guided by the Spirits

The Meanings of Life, Death, and Youth Suicide in an Ojibwa Community, 1st Edition

By Seth Allard


172 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

CHOICE 2018 Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner
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Guided by the Spirits is a case study of youth suicide in the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Written by a member of the tribal community, this study focuses on qualitative methods, indigenous experience, and collaborative approaches to explore the social and historical significance of youth suicide in an Ojibwa community. Guided by the Spirits combines traditional methods of analysis, extracts of interviews and field notes, and creative ethnographic writing to present the relationships between culture, history, identity, agency, and youth suicide. This book is a must read for lay readers, policy makers, and researchers who seek a window into contemporary Native American life as well as a critical interpretation of youth suicide in indigenous societies.


"Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.

With this auto-ethnographic method Allard does not stand apart but recognizes mutuality and reciprocity, demonstrating how one can balance multiple roles from within and outside Indigenous communities and respectfully making room for previously unexpressed views, information, and forms of evidence. Allard's scholarship lends itself to effectively challenging prevailing views on youth suicide and the cultural and historical realities of mental health in Indigenous communities. Finally, with this approach, Allard makes an essential and propelling contribution to emerging Indigenous and postmodern research literature in North America."

G. Bruyere, University of Lethbridge

"Suicide among Native youth is of epidemic proportions throughout Indian country today. Seth Allard's Guided by the Spirits confronts suicide head on and challenges the reader, whether Native American or non-Native, to do something to stop the tragic deaths so that Native youth can live their futures."

Levi Rickert, publisher and editor, Native News Online

Table of Contents

Description of Indigenous Peoples Audience Government, Demographics, and Economy Maps, Local and Region 1. Introduction 2. Overview of Suicide in the Sault Tribe 3. What is an "Indian"? Conflicted Identity in the Sault Tribe 4. Hopelessness Kills: Development of Risk Factors for Youth Suicide and Barriers to Treatment and Relief 5. Prevention: An Approach to Mental Health Care and Treatment Models, Indicator of Social and Cultural Values 6. Conclusion: Meanings Epilogue Appendix: Interview Questions Bibliography

About the Author

Seth Allard, MA, is a cultural anthropologist, Pipe Carrier and Ogichiidaa of the Bowheting Ojibwa, and a member of the Sault Saint Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He has a master’s degree in anthropology from Western Michigan University, and his research focuses on indigenous culture and history and medical anthropology.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Child & Adolescent
PSYCHOLOGY / Research & Methodology
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health