INDIAN RUNNING by Peter Nabokov


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Sprightly, intelligent coverage of an extraordinary ""track meet."" For nine days in August last year a group of Pueblo Indians ran from Taos, New Mexico, to the Hopi Cultural Center on Second Mesa in Arizona. Hardly a record-setting time for a distance of just over 375 miles, but then speed was not of the essence--in fact this wasn't even a race: the event commemorated the 300th anniversary of the Pueblo Rebellion. In August 1680 runners bearing deerskin pictographs had sped over the same trails to synchronize the bloody and (for twelve years) entirely successful uprising. Nabokov followed their modern descendants in a pickup truck--later returning to Berkeley to do some homework on the role of running in various Indian cultures, especially in the American Southwest. But if he's not a professional anthropologist, Nabokov is a very apt student, and this historical-ethnological-literary mÉlange, treating everything from the kick-stick racing of the western Pueblos to the careers of several Indian Olympians, etc., shows an easy familiarity with a wide range of judiciously chosen sources. Nabokov is particularly good at rendering nuances: the ways that Indian running integrates sport and spiritual discipline; the dialectic between the Tricentennial Run as a boost to Indian pride and as a distinctly non-Indian mode of remembering the past; the subtle modulations of Pueblo hostility toward the white world. It all makes for a vivid, accurate, albeit highly informal, account of Pueblo life--and a sensitive piece of journalism.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1981
Publisher: Capra Press