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Reviews 181 Big Falling Snow. By Albert Yava. (New York: Crown, 1978. 179 pages, $10.00.) Albert Yava’s Big Falling Snow gives us just what its subtitle promises: A Tewa-Hopi Indian’s Life and Times and the History and Traditions of His People. As an Indian autobiography and history it has few parallels. As a Tewa-Hopi’s view of himself and his culture, it is absolutely unrivaled. Unlike most Indian autobiographers, Albert Yava does not take a maudlin view of his tribal heritage. At eighty-nine, he is still capable of avoiding the pitfalls inherent in the idea of a golden age in Indian history. “I don’t think the Hopi people ever had an easy time of it from the begin­ ning,” he says by way of introduction to the Blue Com Tale. As Yava tells it, after the Hopi emergence into the Fourth World, Mockingbird arranged everyone according to tribes and told each tribe to choose one variety of corn from the many he had set out. Everyone — Navajos, Commanches , Utes, Apaches — began to grab until only one ear was left, the short blue com. Naturally, this ear fell to the Hopis. It meant they would make their home in an austere place, but that they would lead long, full, peaceful lives. Although life would be hard, no one would envy them. Of course, we know that this was not entirely the case. Indians and non-Indians alike have contested Hopi land. Surprisingly, so have the Hopis themselves. In fact, Yava points out that contention has aways been the mother of change in primitive societies and that the Hopis and Tewas, despite their pacifism, have never been free of it. It is a theme he subtly stitches into the entire narrative, beginning with the Tewa and Hopi migra­ tions and continuing with clan disputes and relationships. At one point in the historical Hopi past, one village obliterated another and Yava’s account of the incident is detailed enough for him to use it as a touchstone to several tales and myths. Yava’s ability to look critically at his own culture enables him to put the events he narrates into context. Similarly, although he recognizes the damage inflicted on his culture by outsiders, he takes a more relaxed view of non-Indians than the narrator in Sun Chief (Yale: 1942), the most famous Hopi autobiography. Whereas Don Talaysva, Sun Chief’s narrator, refers to whites as “wicked, deceitful people” (p. xi), Yava concludes that “the white man brought good as well as bad to these villages.” Likewise, although Yava disparages his traditional enemies, the Navajos, his view of his encroaching neighbors is as balanced as one could hope for under the circumstances. “As individuals they may be pretty decent people,” he sur­ mises, “But as a group they’ve been pushing us hard.” Such tolerance, of course, is traditional to what has often been referred to as “the Hopi way.” But if tolerance is a Hopi virtue, so is what Englishman John Keats once called Negative Capability, or the ability to live with contradiction. Unquestionably, one of the hallmarks of Big Falling 182 Western American Literature Snow is Yava’s ability to reconcile two seemingly polar philosophies: Hopi ceremonialism and western rationalism. For these reasons, Big Falling Snow will appeal to anyone interested in Tewa-Hopi culture, including historians, anthropologists, folklorists, and students of literature. While many of the stories are familiar (cf H. R. Voth’s The Traditions of the Hopi, Chicago: 1905), Yava’s variations, insights, and personal experiences are not. JAMES R. HEPWORTH, University of Arizona The Paradox of Pancho Villa. By Haldeen Braddy. (El Paso: Texas Western Press, University of Texas, 1978. 95 pages, $10.00.) Border Patrol: With the U.S. Immigration Service on the Mexican Boundary 1910-54. By Clifford Alan Perkins. Assisted by Nancy Dickey. Edited by C. L. Sonnichsen. (El Paso: Texas Western Press, University of Texas, 1978. 127 pages, $10.00.) Haldeen Braddy’s The Paradox of Pancho Villa is a physically attractive book. The drawings by artist Manuel Acosta as well as the physical make up of the book make for interesting eye appeal and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 181-182
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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