Mary Austin was one of the first to recognize that Native American myths and culture were in danger of being eroded and lost. She then took upon herself the duty of tracking down American Indian songs and poems, saying that she was not giving a translation of the original but what she preferred to call a "re-expression" which she referred to as "reëxpressions." It was her belief that the life and environment of the person who made up the words was an important part of understanding the rhythm and meaning of the work. She considered tribal dancing an essential part of the sung or spoken words and her extensive research led first to lectures and later to the publication of "The American Rhythm." It was her work in this field that resulted in Austin being named an Associate in Native American Literature by the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.