Native American Authors
Dr. Walter Dyk began recording a narrative life story of Left Handed in 1934 when he went to the reservation to study clan and kinship functions in the society. Left Handed began with the story of his birth, in the spring of 1868, while the Navajo were going home after their four years’ stay at Fort Sumner. The story ends with his marriage about 20 years later. Left Handed did not know English and the story was told to an interpreter first and then set down by Dr. Dyk.
From the Book Description:
With a simplicity as disarming as it is frank, Left Handed tells of his birth in the spring “when the cottonwood leaves were about the size of my thumbnail,” of family chores such as guarding the sheep near the hogan, and of his sexual awakening. As he grows older, his account turns to life in the open: nomadic cattle-raising, farming, trading, communal enterprises, tribal dances and ceremonies, love-making and marriage. As Left Handed grows in understanding and stature, the accumulated wisdom of his people is made known to him. He learns the Navajo life founded upon principles: the necessity of honesty, foresightedness, self-discipline.
The style of the narrative is almost biblical in its rhythms; but biblical, too, in many respects, is the traditional way of life which it recounts.
Written at a time when few reliable memoirs of American Indians had been published, this was a landmark book with credibility and authenticity.
Books by Left Handed:
Left Handed. Son of Old Man Hat: A Navaho Autobiography
New York, NY : Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1938.
Audience: All Ages
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