Monday, May 30, 2011

Waterless Mountain, by Laura Adams Armer

What a relief to read this one after Ood-le-uk the Wanderer. Laura Adams Armer is actually well known as one of the first women to extensively research the Navajo and Hopi Indians in person. The trust that they were able to place in her made it possible for Armer to create ground-breaking film and photography, bringing many elements of these cultures to the wider world. The original cover for the book (shown below the image of the cover of my copy) is actually a composite painting, derived from two of Armer's own photographs. This is an author who actually paid her dues and knew her material before putting pen to paper, and I have immense respect for that.

On to the plot summary!

Little Brother is a young Navajo boy who lives with his parents, as well as Elder Brother and Little Sister. The time is the present- that is, the 1930's, so native traditions are preserved, but the family also comes into contact with whites, primarily the owners of a remote trading post where they can sell furs or silver and turquoise jewelry (such as the kind Father is especially skilled at) in exchange for essentials such as canned goods or wire.

Little Brother has his own little flock of sheep that he drives out every day, and them home again. But he always carefully observes what he sees around him, with respect to all living creatures and signs of the Ancient People. And despite his relatively routing life, Little Brother sees enough strange signs and visions that Uncle, a medicine man, suspects great things ahead for him.

As Little Brother grows in wisdom over the years, we are able to experience many of his tribe's milestone events, traditions, and sacred stories. Although the book is not "exciting" in the sense that Little Brother ever experiences actual life-threatening danger, it's easy to become fond of him and wish to take part in his life.

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