Anyone interested in mythology and legends will enjoy these stories which have been passed down orally for generations by the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest. They reveal Pueblo customs and traditions as well as the ceremonial aspects of Pueblo religion. A character called Grandfather, the fictional narrator of these stories, embodies the collective wisdom of the Pueblo Indians, the attitudes about universal dilemmas and conflicts in human life that developed through many generations. Some of the stories are realistic; others involve the supernatural. Some evoke the initial contact between the pueblos and the Spanish conquistadors. There are also tales of the joy and bitterness of interactions between parents and children, husbands and wives, and humans and spirits. Rites of passage and 'vision quests' often enter into the characters' attempts to live in harmony with nature, other humans, and spirits. Lessons on how to live, of growing up, marrying, parenting, and growing old sometimes emerge straightforwardly in these stories, but more often, readers are left to draw their own conclusions. These stories, collected by the Teresa Pijoan since she was eight years old, actually came from many different storytellers, some of them childhood friends of the author. She had heard several versions of each story before writing it down and she often used elements from one version to fill in the parts missing from other versions. She then showed her drafts of each story to members of several different pueblos and weighed their comments before putting each story in its present form.
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Ms. Pijoan grew up on the San Juan Pueblo reservation and the Nambe Indian reservation in New Mexico, even though she herself is not Native American. But her early experiences and bicultural background instilled in her a deep respect for and an understanding of pueblo life. She is a national lecturer, storyteller, research writer, college professor, and teacher. She has lectured throughout Central Europe, Mexico, and the United States. She is also the author of American Indian Creation Myths and Ways of Indian Magic, as well as the mystery novel Dead Kachina Man, all published by Sunstone Press.
''Even traditional folktales often have an element of collaboration--but one that is not at first apparent. Stories with an oral root have been told and retold, often by different people and in somewhat different versions, until the final version of the story is like a well-polished stone. Storyteller Teresa Pijoan grew up in San Juan Pueblo and on the Nambe Reservation, not as a Native American but living in her family's mercantile. As a result, she collected stories since she was 8 years old. These are now written so that others may share Pueblo Indian Wisdom. The structure of the book is an appealing one--Pijoan is visiting the storyteller she calls Grandfather, who also has a storytelling neighbor, the widow. Stories are exchanged back and forth, between more mundane conversations about taking the dogs to the vet or what to have for supper. The tales here, like all oral ones, may not be as tidy as fairy tales that have been written down for centures. Conflict resolution and moral conclusions are a bit more sprawling in the oral tale. There are some fascinating historical bits here, such as the arrival of the Spanish and tales of war and raids. There are traditional tales of magic hunters, of women in love with White Buffalo, of snakes, of drought, of rain and redemption. The collection might have benefited from a bit more about Pijoan herself, a storyteller with insider-outsider status and from even more about her central storyteller, Grandfather, whose personality and history are intriguing but a bit vague. In general, however, Pueblo Indian Wisdom will be of great interest to readers who care about myth, legend and tale--and the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.'' --NEW MEXICO Magazine, June 2001
''Pueblo Indian Wisdom: Native American Legends and Mythology is a collection by Teresa Pijoan of the legends, folktales, and myths which were passed down orally for generations among the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest. Powerfully rendered, the recorded drafts of each individual story was shown to multiple storytellers, with their comments taken into account for the final draft. An absorbing and thought-provoking assemblage of folklore, Pueblo Indian Wisdom is a welcome and commended addition to any personal, academic, or community library Native American Studies collection.'' --Wisconsin Bookwatch, October 2003
''...extraordinary, with many nuggets of poetry, wisdom, and gentle humor, not only in the tales, but in the humanity of the storytellers themselves.'' --Michelle Miller Allen, New Mexico Woman, November 2006
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