Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit Essays on Native American life today

Leslie Silko, 1948-

Book - 1996

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New York : Simon & Schuster c1996.
Main Author
Leslie Silko, 1948- (-)
Physical Description
205 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. 203-205).
  • Interior and exterior landscapes: the Pueblo migration stories
  • Language and literature from a Pueblo indian perspective
  • Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit
  • America's debt to the Indian nations: atoning for a sordid past
  • Auntie Kie talks about U. S. presidents and U. S. Indian policy
  • The people and the land are inseparable
  • Tribal councils: puppets of the U. S. government
  • Hunger stalked the tribal people
  • Fences against freedom
  • The border patrol state
  • Fifth world: the return of Ma Ah Shra True Ee, The Giant Serpent
  • Notes on Almanac of the dead
  • Tribal prophecies
  • Stone avenue mural
  • An expression of profound gratitude to the Maya Zapatistas, January 1, 1994
  • Books: notes on Mistec and Maya screenfolds, picture books of preconquest Mexico
  • As a child I loved to draw and cut paper
  • The Indian with a camera
  • On photography
  • An essay on rocks
  • On nonfictions prose
  • Old and new autobiographical notes.
Review by Booklist Review

Silko's concise essays are like songs; their harmonies are autobiographical, their melodies topical. The source of their understated emotional timbre is a carefully controlled blend of pride in Pueblo heritage and anger over the perpetuation of injustice against Native Americans. Although these low-key song-essays are free of fancy modulations and theatrics, they're rich in story and observation. Silko, whose mixed Laguna and white heritage has made her exceptionally sensitive to issues of race, weaves episodes from her life into musings on the inclusiveness of the ancient Pueblo vision, how integral place is to the Pueblo ethos and sense of identity, and how stories are a vibrant part of everyday Pueblo life, establishing and preserving a web of meaning, memory, and knowledge. In her arresting title essay, Silko contrasts Native American and European American standards of feminine beauty, then introduces the heroic figure of Yellow Woman, whose strength, courage, and "vibrant sexuality" were boons to her people. Silko's insights fill our minds like sun warms rock, or a quiet rain saturates dry ground. --Donna Seaman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In her title essay, famed novelist, short story writer and poet Silko recalls her encounters with racism while growing up on a Laguna Pueblo reservation in New Mexico (she is of mixed Indian, Mexican and white ancestry), then goes on to explore sexually uninhibited Laguna society before the arrival of Christian missionaries, when women took lovers as freely as men, and hunted and went to war along with the men. That provocative piece sets the tone for an outspoken collection of original essays in which Silko criticizes tribal councils as puppets of the U.S. government and blames President Clinton for what she considers racist immigration policies and for abetting the white and mestizo ruling classes of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. She writes beautifully of Maya, Aztec and Mixtec codices, or folding books, relating their visual language to frescoes on pyramids and ancient dwellings. Her explorations of Pueblo myths and oral narratives emphasize the inextricable links between human identity, imagination and Mother Earth, a theme that resonates in an evocative essay, augmented by photographs, on the exotic rock formations around her home in Tucson's hills. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Another collection of essays, this from noted Native American novelist Silko (Almanac of the Dead, LJ 10/15/91). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In these previously published essays and stories centered on the Pueblo peoples of the Southwest, Silko (Almanac of the Dead, 1991) weaves together autobiographical material with current and ancient Native American tales. She also blasts a broad array of individuals, professions, and government bodies with often unsubstantiated accusations, and plays fast and loose with matters of science and history. Emphasizing the importance of storytelling as unifier and guidepost in the Pueblo culture, Silko is at her best when recounting stories that demonstrate the strong spiritual relationship of the people to the land's animate and inanimate objects, as in the tale of a drowned child whose clothes magically turn into desert butterflies or in the story of Yellow Woman, who agrees to go away with a buffalo spirit so that her tribe will always have food. Silko also collects modern tribal tales: There is, for instance, a story about a giant stone snake that is discovered at the site of a uranium mine, auguring, Silko suggests, the return of the tribal peoples to their ancestral lands. Elsewhere, Silko rails against the historic confiscation of tribal lands and to some extent details the continuing political struggle for the return of these lands and land-use rights. While her sincerity is unquestioned, and though she has a twice-told run-in with INS agents, readers may become impatient with the barbs tossed without elaboration at anthropologists and archaeologists, and with blanket assertions about ``greedy elected officials'' or the existence of a ``police state'' in the Southwest run by the Border Patrol. At best, her evidence for these charges is anecdotal and circumstantial. One wishes Silko had confined this volume to storytelling and remembrances of her life and her ancestors' lives; the contribution she is capable of bringing to the reader's appreciation of the Pueblo culture is diluted by unsupportable and tired diatribe.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.