THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DANGEROUS

ENCOUNTERS WITH THE ZUNI INDIANS

Like a family album of lovingly collected snapshots, anecdotes, and clan lore, this study by Tedlock (Anthropology/SUNY at Buffalo) offers an affectionate and informative portrait of a contemporary Native American people, the Zuni of New Mexico. On her first visit, in the early 1970's, Tedlock, traveling with her new anthropologist-husband, ``fell in love with the beauty of the high desert and the native peoples of the American Southwest.'' This love affair soon turned into a scholarly study of the Zuni she met there, particularly the family of the patriarch Hapiya and his wife, Tola. Over the years, becoming an accepted member of Hapiya's family, Tedlock learned—as she listened to stories, attended festivals, and helped prepare special foods—how vital many of the old traditions still were. She observed such rituals as the sprinkling of cornmeal on animals and birds that had been killed, so that their journey to the village of the dead would be speedy; the propitiating of spirits with offerings of ears of corn; the butchering of deer; and the making of pottery with traditional tools and dyes. Tedlock made a special study of Zuni music—which, she says, is evolving new traditions, ``dancing the modern world into place, giving it meaning, order, perhaps even a sacred existence.'' But as exciting as the cultural discoveries have been, Tedlock also notes how, increasingly, the Zuni are living in a world in which much of the beauty of the old ways is challenged by the danger of the new. One of Hapiya's sons, a Vietnam vet and recovering alcoholic, has committed suicide; another family member has developed diabetes; and the viability of the old crafts is threatened by increasing costs and unscrupulous middlemen. Tedlock's personal but never sentimental approach vividly conveys the vitality and continuing role of Zuni traditions in the Southwest. A worthy if occasionally uneven contribution, then, to Native American studies. (Illustrations—b&w—throughout.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-670-84448-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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