THE WAYS OF MY GRANDMOTHERS by Beverly Hungry Wolf

THE WAYS OF MY GRANDMOTHERS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Blackfoot Indian Beverly/Hungry Wolf chronicles the old ways of the women of her tribe, the Blood People, in a strange and tantalizing mix of history, legend, myth, gossip, and recipes. Without analysis or question, she records side by side stories of the legendary woman warrior Running Eagle, the Kootenay woman who took another woman for a wife, arranged marriages of child brides, polygamous marriages like ""the buffalo and elk,"" and the traditional capture and rape of women from other tribes ("". . . some of the captured women were killed also, but if they accepted their fate and were able to work, they were usually married by their captors""). Several women contribute without rancor personal stories of drudgery--sewing the buffalo hide tipi and setting it up just in time to cook and serve dinner to the idling men; but some folktales betray hostility--notably a bizarre tale of the ""mistreated wife"" who sharpens her leg with an ax and then kicks her husband in the stomach with fatal results. Young people desert the old tribal ways (one grandmother attributes their bovine selfishness to drinking cow's milk), but Beverly Hungry Wolf gamely sews her own canvas tipi, dries meat over the fire, and gathers all the Blackfoot lore she can, here including recipes for crow gut and berry soup, Mrs. Rides-at-the-Door's instructions for tanning the hides of unborn calves, Ruth Little Bear's method of boiling cow hooves--plus notes on beadwork, porcupine quill work, and stuffing a baby in a moss bag. Much basic lore--such as the medicine pipe bundles and the sun dance ceremonies--go unexplained; and many legends will seem to the uninitiated perfectly pointless. But odd and uneven as it is, this is a valuable compendium.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1980
Publisher: Morrow