I just finished the book, Encounters with Star People: Untold Stories of American Indians (Anomalist Books, 2012), by Ardy Sixkiller Clarke. I can review it in one word: disappointing. Or four words: don’t waste your money.

When I heard about this book I was immediately interested. I thought it would fill a gap in UFO research – namely, that it would be a book about ancient Native American lore about encounters with flying saucers and their occupants. I’m part Native American (not sure of the percentage), so this sort of thing is an interest. The book is anything but what I thought. Instead of ancient texts or traditions, this is nothing more than anecdotes from Native Americans about stuff they saw or heard (sometimes second, third, and fourth hand). It contributes nothing to serious UFO research, as it confirms something I don’t think anyone doubted in the first place: Native Americans see unidentified objects, too. (Was that a controversy?)

The book is not merely a disappointment for what it doesn’t cover, but also for how it covers what it does cover. Unless the back cover had told me the author was a (retired) professor at a university of note (Montana State) I never would have guessed. There is virtually no critical thinking in the book. Whatever someone says is taken at face value. Familiar historical cases that have been roundly criticized by serious UFO researchers are taken as the gospel truth. For example, it’s as though the author is completely unaware of the problems with the Hill case (like Betty’s “star map” astronomy, or how Barney initially said the “aliens” looked like Germans in Nazi garb). None of the people interviewed by the author are ever challenged or asked for evidence. (And several of the reports contained clear items or elements that could be falsified or supported with data – but doing that might have shown they were fantasies).

In a nutshell, the book is the paperback equivalent of a polite nod when someone you don’t want to offend says something nutty.

To be fair, the author does say she seeks only to report. That’s nice. If anyone had seen a¬†leprechaun¬†or a pterodactyl during their experience that would have made it in, too. It’s fine if you want to report something, but that has little value in furthering research. My advice is to buy and read something more serious in terms of analysis or building a case for why people ought to care about the UFO issue (like Leslie Kean’s book). This book just doesn’t accomplish anything that will matter for the field.