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  • Writer's pictureGregory Shushan

“The Sun Told me I Would be Restored to Life” -- Native American Near-Death Experiences

The title of this article is a quote from a Shoshone Native American man named Enga-gwacu (Red-shirt) Jim, in his description of an NDE he had around 1890. He recounted how his soul left his body while still alive, but when he looked back it “dropped, cold and dead.” He then traveled to the spirit world and had various mystical experiences before the Sun — a being of light — told him he would return to life.

This is one of 25 Native American NDEs discussed in the article, which shows how they were commonly the basis for afterlife beliefs. In fact, entire religious movements sometimes originated in NDEs — including the famous Ghost Dance religion. This means that NDEs had a strong socio-political dimension, playing a key role in responding to Christian missionary teachings and in negotiating cultural-political threats from European dominance. Religious revitalization movements are typically studied from sociological and political approaches, but until now the significance of NDEs has been widely ignored.

"Gregory Shushan...brought his considerable experience as a scholar of near-death experiences in the origins of religion to a specific focus on Native American NDEs.... His article is rich in both case descriptions and ethnohistorical analysis" 

— Jan Holden, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Near-Death Studies and co-author of

Click HERE and scroll down to read ‘“The Sun Told Me I Would be Restored to Life”: Native American Near-Death Experiences, Shamanism, and Religious Revitalization Movements.’" — and other articles!


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