West of the Thirties: Discoveries among the Navajo and Hopi

Overview

From 1933 to 1937, famed anthropologist Edward T. Hall, author of the classic The Silent Language, lived and worked on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. West of the Thirties is the story of Hall as a young man discovering his way in what might have been another century and another world, a frontier where four cultures - Navajo, Hopi, Hispanic, and Anglo - clashed. Looking back at the history of white men among Indians in this stark and haunting landscape, Hall weaves a firsthand account of two proud ...
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Overview

From 1933 to 1937, famed anthropologist Edward T. Hall, author of the classic The Silent Language, lived and worked on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. West of the Thirties is the story of Hall as a young man discovering his way in what might have been another century and another world, a frontier where four cultures - Navajo, Hopi, Hispanic, and Anglo - clashed. Looking back at the history of white men among Indians in this stark and haunting landscape, Hall weaves a firsthand account of two proud worlds - the frugal, pueblo-dwelling Hopis, with their isolated villages high on the mesa tops and their deeply felt religious faith; and the proud Navajos, whose rhythm and ceremonious forms of respect Hall learned as he worked with them. As he discovered the deeply different human logic of the Navajos and the Hopis, Hall began to recognize how culture itself was at work in each person's behavior. The respect he felt and displayed earned him a friendly Navajo nickname - Chiz Chili, meaning Slim Curly Hair - and a mentor, the great Indian trader Lorenzo Hubbell. Set under the vast arch of sky in place of unforgettable beauty, West of the Thirties is first of all about the Navajos and the Hopis as one receptive young white man perceived them. But it is also about the core of being human, which Hall, who understood this truth there for the first time, would later develop as a theory of implicit culture. In these pages, we see theory in the flesh, taking a hundred different human forms and engaging us in a rough-and-tumble bygone world, the West of the thirties.

From 1933 to 1937, the great American anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, lived and worked on reservations in the Southwest, a frontier where cultures--Navajo, Hopi, Hispanic and Anglo--clashed. Re-creating that stark landscape, Hall pieces together a firsthand account of the proud worlds of the Navajo and Hopi. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From 1933 to 1937, noted anthropologist Hall ( The Hidden Dimension Beyond ) worked as a camp manager for the Indian equivalent of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. The job entailed blasting rocks, building earthen dams and repairing vestigial roads. Young and inquisitive, he became attuned to the distinct Hopi and Navajo ways of life. Hall came under the tutelage of the legendary trader Lorenzo Hubbell, who was equally at home in Hopi, Navajo, Hispanic and Anglo cultures. At that time, the traders and representatives of the federal government were the only outside contacts for the Indians. Hall became convinced that the Hopi and Navajo were the products of complex, sophisticated rational cultures. He gives an engaging picture of the period. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Hall spent four years living on the remote Navajo and Hopi reservations while working for the Indian equivalent of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Only 19 when he arrived in 1933, and not yet an anthropologist, he became fascinated with the differences between the Hopi, Navajo, and white cultures and how these differences were reflected is language and logic. In this work of both anthropology and autobiography, Hall is a most perceptive observer; he not only describes his own interactions with the Indians but also how the Hopi and the Navajo viewed their contacts with whites throughout history. Recommended for Southwestern and anthropology collections.-- Judy R. Reis, Cochise Cty. Lib. Dist., Bisbee, Ariz.
Donna Seaman
Anthropologist Hall ("The Anthropology of Everyday Life" ) here recounts his experiences as a young man working on Arizona's Navajo and Hopi reservations from 1933 through 1937. Hall found himself learning his way around a "country within a country," a place as yet untouched by the century's technological changes. Wise for his years and skilled in such arts as handling dynamite, horses, and difficult personalities, Hall was put in charge of Hopi and Navajo road and dam construction crews and became profoundly interested in his coworkers' "language of behavior" and the "tacit side" of their cultures, which differed so greatly from his. Hall was especially struck by the intrinsic sacredness of Native American life and offers unusually lucid explanations of the Hopi kachina cult and Navajo sings. It is this openness, awareness, and instinct for underlying truths that make Hall such an illuminating anthropologist and writer. It is also no small feat to write about one's youth, some 30 years later, with such freshness and vibrancy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385424219
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 224

Table of Contents

Maps and Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Country and Its People
1 Keams 1
2 My Navajo Name 13
3 Lorenzo 28
4 The Experience of Place 46
5 The Hopis 57
6 The Fragility of Understanding 76
7 The Navajos 99
8 The Government in Sheep's Clothing 125
9 The Trading Business 142
10 The Hubbells 155
Epilogue 169
Selected Readings 179
Index 181
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