Society for the Study of Native Arts and Sciences
North Atlantic Books

The Society for the Study of Native Arts and Sciences was incorporated in 1980. At that time, its primary goals were to encourage and disseminate non-Western and new-paradigm arts and sciences. It also provided an organizational framework for two publishing enterprises: Io, an interdisciplinary journal founded in 1964 by Richard Grossinger and Lindy Hough (while college students), and North Atlantic Books, a literary publishing company derived from Io in 1974.

In their early stages, Io and North Atlantic Books were grant-based, with most of the funding coming from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Now, a more mature SSNAAS is pursuing outside funding anew to match its own revenues and to enable it to expand its services and contribution to local and global communities.

Publishing Program

The publishing program of the Society had its roots in the history and lineage of Io/North Atlantic Books. Io was initially inspired by the cosmological and mythopoetic writings of Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Edward Dorn, Robert Kelly, and their Beat and Black Mountain colleagues. In 1963 the poet Charles Stein, a contemporary of Grossinger and Hough, had briefly published his own journal, Aion, on topics of so-called "traditionary thought"; Aion was Io's model, and Stein directed many of its early authors to Io after he abandoned his publication. These original sources led Io into the domains of Sufism, Jungian psychology, alchemy, ethnobotany, ethnozoology, ethnoastronomy, American Indian philosophy, Western hermeticism, phenomenology of landscape, ecology, dream science, and science fiction. Source material from all of these areas, mixed with mostly avant-garde literary work, characterized the various Io issues between 1964 and 1980.

North Atlantic Books was named partly for the North Atlantic region (Io having originated in Massachusetts and being published subsequently from Maine and Vermont). Another source of motivation was Alan Van Newkirk's Geographic Foundation of the North Atlantic, an early (1970) ecological center founded in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, by urban radicals from Detroit that published broadsides and pamphlets under the name of root, branch, and mammal. A final inspiration was Edward Dorn's 1960s millennial poem, "North Atlantic Turbine: A Theory of Truth," which very early described the dangers of global commoditization by the Western World.

Through the 1980s, the publishing program under the Society expanded from primarily literary works to psychospiritual, medicinal, martial, and ecological literature. During those years North Atlantic Books became a significant publishing force, trail blazing in some areas (internal martial arts, sports literature, and homeopathy) and filling holes left by mainstream commercial publishing in other areas (anthropology, occult novels, regional history, and outsider science). In the process, the publishing program developed significant book lines in alternative medicine, ecology, spirituality, and other related areas and a diverse and appreciative audience of readers.

Over two decades, North Atlantic Books continues to fulfill many of the Society's educational goals purely through its published library, and at the same time generates revenues to be used for books of literary and social merit, and for philanthropy. Portions of the Society's profits are donated to worthwhile projects and organizations.