In these previously published essays and stories centered on the Pueblo peoples of the Southwest, Silko (Almanac of the...


YELLOW WOMAN AND A BEAUTY OF THE SPIRIT: Essays on Native American Life Today

In these previously published essays and stories centered on the Pueblo peoples of the Southwest, Silko (Almanac of the Dead, 1991) weaves together autobiographical material with current and ancient Native American tales. She also blasts a broad array of individuals, professions, and government bodies with often unsubstantiated accusations, and plays fast and loose with matters of science and history. Emphasizing the importance of storytelling as unifier and guidepost in the Pueblo culture, Silko is at her best when recounting stories that demonstrate the strong spiritual relationship of the people to the land's animate and inanimate objects, as in the tale of a drowned child whose clothes magically turn into desert butterflies or in the story of Yellow Woman, who agrees to go away with a buffalo spirit so that her tribe will always have food. Silko also collects modern tribal tales: There is, for instance, a story about a giant stone snake that is discovered at the site of a uranium mine, auguring, Silko suggests, the return of the tribal peoples to their ancestral lands. Elsewhere, Silko rails against the historic confiscation of tribal lands and to some extent details the continuing political struggle for the return of these lands and land-use rights. While her sincerity is unquestioned, and though she has a twice-told run-in with INS agents, readers may become impatient with the barbs tossed without elaboration at anthropologists and archaeologists, and with blanket assertions about ""greedy elected officials"" or the existence of a ""police state"" in the Southwest run by the Border Patrol. At best, her evidence for these charges is anecdotal and circumstantial. One wishes Silko had confined this volume to storytelling and remembrances of her life and her ancestors' lives; the contribution she is capable of bringing to the reader's appreciation of the Pueblo culture is diluted by unsupportable and tired diatribe.

Pub Date: March 1, 1996


Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996