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360 WesternAmerican Literature After two dubious uses of “hopefully,”I opened Modem American Usage by Wilson Follett (1966): The special badness of hopefully is not alone that it strains the sense of -lyto the breaking point, but that it appeals to speakers and writers who do not think about what they are saying and pick up words by reflex action. Past the lobby—and lobbying—Pavesic settles into a decent, tractoring style that conveys his considerable knowledge and his ideas, as long as he plows straight. Theory, though, wakes the demons sleeping in his pen. Indifferent style aside, the illustrations show wonderful work by curators and photographers, and above all by the early residents (c. 11,000 years and counting) of the Snake River Plain. More than once, though, these people are retroactively made citizens: “ancient Idahoans.” Besides being ethnocentric, this is simply galling. Studebaker is a good poet, but he strains: ‘This delineation of mythology is based on the preferential assumption of Newtonian physics: reality must be measurable, tangible, mechanically perceptive.” Perceptible? Phrases like “the mental limits of the mind” likewise block the trail. By page forty-seven, Studebaker finds his feet: It seems the Shoshoneans had a quantum view of reality. Things could be ‘this way or that way’depending how one chose to see. If one chose to look at life through the eyes of the ‘acquisitive spirit,’he saw poverty. If one opted to study his dreams, he saw opulence. Too late, we find the clean and sturdy writing that we’d like throughout. As a catalogue, this book has its place. Specialists may endure thisjargonheavy trot, but decent editing could have made it worthy in all respects. In its present state, the book is marred by the callous use of language. Set against the loving craft of the artifacts it treats, Backtracking shows ajarring carelessness. C. L. RAWLINS Boulder, Wyoming Yanktonai Sioux Watercolors: Cultural Remembrances ofJohn Saul. By Martin Brokenleg and Herbert T. Hoover. (Sioux Falls: Center for Western Studies, 1993. 66 pages, $15.95.) Like any other ethnic group, the Sioux of the Great Plains have perpetu­ ated their cultural traditions in the visual arts. The work of many Lakota and Dakota artists over the past century splendidly reflects this heritage. Reviews 361 This richness is beautifully illustrated in Yanktonai Sioux Watercolors, an engaging collection of twenty-three plates ofwatercolors by the Yanktonai Sioux artist John Saul, who was born in 1878 at the Crow Creek Agency in Dakota Territory and died in 1971. During his long life he not only worked as a shoe repairman, carpenter, blacksmith, and teacher of art, but also served on the WPA art project in South Dakota and became the artistic mentor of the wellknown Yanktonai painter Oscar Howe. Unfortunately his recognition as an artist in his own right did not come until the first exhibition of his work in 1967, just a few years before his death. Saul’s work is especially significant in that during his formative years he was surrounded by elders who had been born in the era of the fur-traders and the explorers. It is their culture that he reflects so successfully in his watercolors. This book contains a short biographical sketch, a photographic essay on Saul’s life, two chapters on Yanktonai traditions and ethnology, a third on the collection itself, and a fourth on Saul’s artistic genius. There are also six pages of commentary on the plates. The pictures portray a wide variety of subjects: a purification ceremony, games (the elk, the ice glider, the spear-and-hoop, the buffalo), and various items of the Yanktonai culture, such as women’s dresses, baby-carriers, buffalo robes, eagle-feather headdresses, moccasins, pipes and pipe bags, quill work, bows and arrows, and axes. These paintings provide striking evidence for Arthur Amiotte’s thesis that all too often the visual arts of the Sioux have been viewed merely as anthropo­ logical artifacts rather than as fine art. This retrospective of Saul’s paintings is proof of Amiotte’s assertion; they are certainly interesting to the ethnologist, but they will also appeal to the connoisseur of Native American fine arts. ROBERT C. STEENSMA...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 360-361
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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