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Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Todayby Leslie Marmon Silko
Synopses & Reviews
Bold and impassioned, sharp and defiant, Leslie Marmon Silko's essays evoke the spirit and voice of Native Americans. Whether she is exploring the vital importance literature and language play in Native American heritage, illuminating the inseparability of the land and the Native American people, enlivening the ways and wisdom of the old-time people, or exploding in outrage over the government's long-standing, racist treatment of Native Americans, Silko does so with eloquence and power, born from her profound devotion to all that is Native American.
Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit is written with the fire of necessity. Silko's call to be heard is unmistakable; there are stories to remember, injustices to redress, ways of life to preserve. It is a work of major importance, filled with indispensable truths--a work by an author with an original voice and a unique access to both worlds.
A passionate weaving of past and present, this collection of 22 essays illuminates the Native American experience. "There is no one writing in America who more deserves our attention and respect".--Larry McMurtry.
About the Author
Leslie Marmon Silko:
One of the reasons I felt I must write the essays in this book was to remedy this country's
shocking ignorance of its own history.
U.S. history courses in elementary and secondary schools usually begin with the arrival of
the Englishspeaking Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock or, if the teacher is quite daring, with the
failed colony at Roanoke, Virginia- Yet the true history of the United States begins thousands
of years earlier with the stories of the paleo-Indian mammoth hunters on the plains of what
is now northeastern and north-central New Mexico. These ancestors of the Pueblo Indian
people did more than survive, they learned to thrive under the harsh conditions of the
In 1540, when the Spaniards marched into what is now Arizona and New Mexico, they found
large, prosperous villages which reminded them of towns in Spain; and so they called the people
"indios pueblos"-"pueblo" is the Spanish word for "town." The "indios pueblos" did not take the
invasion of their land lying down- they resisted bitterly, and in 1680, they expelled the
Spaniards to El Paso for twelve years.
In 1689, to make peace with the Pueblos, the King of Spain recognized each of the Pueblos
as sovereign nations under international law Thus, the Pueblos of New Mexico (and Hopi of
Arizona) were acknowledged as nations by international law, almost one hundred years
before the United States even existed.
If our U.S. educational system actually gave students a complete history of this country,
a great deal of prejudice aimed at Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans,
and Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens might be ended as our school children began to understand
who really settled this country, and who really did the work of planting crops, mining ore,
and building cities and railroads.
Until the whole story of the origins of the United States of America is known, there can be
no justice, and without justice, there can be no peace.
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