THE RAIN DANCE PEOPLE: The Pueblo Indians, Their Past and Present by Richard Erdoes

THE RAIN DANCE PEOPLE: The Pueblo Indians, Their Past and Present

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Despite the fact that this is geared somewhat older than the author's Pueblo Indians (1969), Erdoes is not above casual simplification, chatty condescension (""this is supposed to be a book about Native Americans of today and here we are still bogged down in pit houses""), and the sort of incidental imperatives (""do not buy pawned jewelry"") that adult readers wouldn't stand for. The range is wide--through history from early migrant hunters and the different Basket Maker cultures to Spanish conquest and exploitation, the coming of the Anglo whose meddling was just as harmful, and today's conflicts between the demands of our dollar economy and the traditions the Indians try to preserve. An appreciation of these traditions (along with scorn for white America) informs the whole, and there are numerous telling examples of the conflict--i.e., a white teacher complains that, though bright and gifted, her Acoma pupils refuse to compete, or even to give an answer that another child might not know. We don't blame Erdoes for being one sided; however, his case would be more compelling and his survey more readable without those Spaniards ""swarming like locusts,"" the Americans' ""insatiable greed,"" the juxtaposition of tribal dance and ""idiot box,"" and other strident cliches.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1976
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Knopf