Native American Authors
Maria Chona was born at Mesquite Root, Arizona, around 1846. When
she was young, the O’Odham fought the Apache and inclined more toward Mexico than the United States. Chona’s lifetime saw a transformation of Papago life. By the 1930s, when she told her autobiography, the Papagos had adopted "Western" dress in place of their breach clouts, guns in the place of bow and arrow,
English as a second language in place of Spanish, andÑto some
extentÑa sedentary reservation farming way of life in place of
Chona lived much of the typical O’Odham woman’s life; she bore children, learned woman’s work, and shared her chores with a man- woman sister. She also had less typical experiences; she left her husband when he took a second wife, she had visions and made songs, and she learned how to heal babies.
Online resources by or about Maria Chona:
Woman Spirit – Maria Chona – Papago
Author: White, Julia
Description: Short biography of Maria Chona, the Papago woman who was one of the first Southwestern Native American women to write her own autobiography. Her autobiography, The Autobiography of a Papago Woman was transcribed by the ethnographer Ruth Underhill and published in 1936, the year of Chona’s death.
Books by Maria Chona:
Chona, Maria. The Autobiography of a Papago Woman
Menasha, WI : American Anthropological Association, 1936.
Audience: All Ages
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