Review by Chris Bilbee
Encounters with Star People: Untold Stories of American Indians by Ardy Sixkiller Clarke is the first book in what is intended to be a trilogy concerning indigenous peoples’ encounters with the Star or Sky People and focuses on North America. Dr. Clarke is of Cherokee/Choctaw descent and holds multiple degrees (as well as being a professor emeritus), many of which she brings to bear in this interesting and enlightening study. Being a Native American, and being familiar with the details of the various cultures as well as reservation life in general, Dr. Clarke was able to gain the trust of the people whose stories she tells much more easily and completely than someone without her background and experience. Her understanding of the cultures and personal situations of her subjects also lends an immediacy, almost intimacy, to this book that makes it a breath of fresh air in this sometimes stodgy genre. That immediacy is most strongly conveyed in the format Dr. Clarke has chosen. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction, connecting the theme of that chapter’s stories to better known concepts and events in ufology, thus giving the general reader a more familiar point of reference. The main body of each chapter is structured as one or more first person narratives told from Dr. Clarke’s point of view. She will introduce her subject and set the surroundings briefly and then proceed to tell their story. This approach lends these “interviews” a much more conversational, immediate feel than standard, clinical non-fiction prose and gives the attentive reader some small insight not only into each story, but also into the Native American cultures and communities from which these very personal stories originate. Dr. Clake’s intention with this book is not to verify or debunk these people’s stories, but to simply and effectively relay them. I feel she pulled this off with great, if understated, success. To be critical of this book, I must resort to knit-picking; there are a few typographical errors in the text (most usually a missing or misplaced quotation marks), at least in the ebook format. Other than that, and the fact I wished the book were longer (though honestly, I wish most books I have read were longer than they are), I found this book a great investment of my time and money as well as an outstanding addition to any Fortean library.
Chris Bilbee is 43 years old and lives in Mechelen, Belgium. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and lived most of his life in that vicinity until he moved to belgium in 2011. He has had a life-long interest in Fortean and fringe science subjects and his library of books in this arena is much bigger than his wife is comfortable with. His spiritual point of view could best be described as taoisty with a healthy dose of quantum theory. He is a cook by profession and a poet for over 35 years because if he didn't write poetry his head would explode, and his fascination with the strange and his compulsion to write poetry have crossed on numerous occasions. While he cannot say he has ever seen a UFO or had an encounter with 'aliens', He has had a few... liminal experiences in his life.His point of view on the UFO subject leans heavily toward the Vallee / Keel camp rather than the nuts-and-bolts one. He tends to see the fortean world as a single spectrum rather than isolated oddities.