Chapman lists several books, some of which are excellent. Seale and Slapin's A Broken Flute is on her list. So are two volumes of Vine Deloria, Jr.
But the inclusion of Forrest Carter's The Education of Little Tree makes me wonder what criteria Chapman used to develop her list. Also questionable are the Will Hobbs book, and Scott O'Dell's, and several others.
And the Gabriel Horn book?! About it, Chapman says "Blending a New Age approach to spirituality with descriptions of Native American rituals, prayers, and stories, this book includes a fascinating look at ceremonies for marriage, birth, dreams, and healing."
I'm a bit cynical and sarcastic in these remarks, but it seems to me that Chapman didn't read the Deloria texts on her list. If she had, she'd know that New Age appropriation of Native spirituality is a primary concern to us (with "us" being Native peoples... I'm tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo).
Chapman's list makes no sense, and I urge librarians NOT to use it to add to their collections.
Update: 8:45 PM, March 7, 2007
Beverly Slapin read the VOYA article and sent me critical reviews of two of the books Chapman recommends. Oyate does NOT recommend them. They are below. First is Where the Great Hawk Flies, and second is Spirit Line. Note! Both reviews are used here with Slapin's permission and may not be published elsewhere without her written permission.
“He shook the rattle, drummed the earth with his feet, and began to sing. His voice was high as the scream of the red-tailed hawk, wild as coyotes calling to one another on the ridge….The fire lit the pendant on Grandfather’s chest. He shook the rattle harder, then beat his chest with his fists. Swish. Swish. Thrum. Thrum. His voice rose higher, the drumming came faster, the rattle shivered until I thought it would explode…Grandfather’s mournful cries rang in our ears.”
“Mother’s hands began to move and I watched her for a moment. Her fingers snaked a pale splint into the half-formed basket, twining the ash in and out through darker splints so the pattern alternated, dark, then light. Dark. Light. Mother. Father. A dark splint, a light one, woven together. My sister and me, formed from the two—each one of us a sturdy basket, held by the tight mesh of our parents’ weaving. Each neither Pequot, nor English, but both.”
- A young Diné woman raised traditionally would not consider her home “the middle of nowhere,” nor would she feel “suffocated by her father’s traditional culture.” This is her world. Even if she were to move to the city, she would be tied to the land that would always be her home. The “culture of her ancestors” would be her culture, and she would not think of it as “dead.”
- There are many traditional weavers living and working on Dinétah who have been learning from and teaching each other for a long time; a 15-year-old would still be learning from her female elders. “Most talented” is not a Diné concept; it implies that the art of weaving is natural rather than learned, that there is competition to be the “best,” and that the learning is done when a certain level is attained.
- Traditional Diné weavers incorporate a small opening or break—sometimes a light-colored piece of yarn woven into a border—as an acknowledgment that only Creator makes perfect things. It’s also a personal reminder to keep one’s heart “open” to learning.
decides not to weave in this “spirit line” because she doesn’t believe in traditional ways. But she wouldn’t be weaving if she were not a traditionalist. Weaving is a sacred gift; it’s a way for Diné to embed the culture, it’s a constant reminder of why and how things are done. Crystal ’s father and her other relatives wouldn’t openly criticize her. Diné don’t criticize their children’s choices, nor do they impose their beliefs on their children. Rather, they allow them to learn about life in their own way and make decisions about their lives that support their own beliefs. Crystal
- A visit to a traditional healer for assistance is not a casual thing. The whole family would be involved. They would arrange for the visit and pay in cash, food, sheep, goats, blankets, rugs. A person who does not believe in traditional ways does not consult a medicine man. A young woman would not just go for advice and then decide not to follow it.
- A person would not express to the healer how she felt as a result of the ceremony. Rather she would take in the experience and think about its significance. More than likely, it would be the medicine man giving follow-up instructions.
- A kinaaldá is held to welcome a young woman into the circle of women. It is a blessing and an honoring, and physically rigorous, not to mention expensive. A young woman’s female relatives would not go through all the work and expense to arrange a kinaaldá if the ceremony “didn’t mean much to her,” nor would they have one if she weren’t ready or if they couldn’t afford it.
- It’s stated that people must address each other only by nicknames, because calling people by their first names is culturally forbidden. This is because “Navajo names are supposed to contain power, and using them too much burns up your energy.” Actually, friends or relatives call each other by first names or nicknames or relationship names. Traditional Indian names are generally not used, except in certain circumstances.
- Despite Crystal’s assertions that “traditionalists believed that even a single mistake by a healer during a Sing could cause the gods to ignore their efforts or, in some cases, make everything worse,” Diné healers take their jobs very seriously, but if someone makes a mistake, there’s something done to redeem it.
- While many Diné don’t have personal computers, they have computers in school. In Rough Rock and Chinle and other places, every classroom has computers, credentialed teachers, and good bilingual and bicultural programs that teach cultural and academic language, as well as other subjects.
“If you don’t leave an opening,” she said, “you will close in your life and thoughts. You will be unable to learn anymore.”