Spider Woman's Loom Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
A few reviewers were distressed at the harshness, of the times, of the landscape, of the life. It is harsh. But were the Navajo treated badly? Yes. Were their children hauled off to schools that essentially used them as slaves, and forbade use of their native language? Yes. Were many of the traders unscrupulous people who took advantage of the Navajo? Absolutely. Were young girls raped and impregnated and tossed away? I personally knew some. Is a desert a harsh place to try to eke out a living? Certainly. Take all this land away from the Navajo, but when it seems to be worthless, give it back. Then when uranium is discovered, take it away again. Care little for the men who worked themselves to an early grave in mines to make a few dollars they never needed before but now do. Don't worry about contaminating their water supply and food chain. But maybe reality is too harsh for some readers.
This is a story to read and reread, to savor and think about. I'm waiting for more from this author.
I was caught up immediately with the narration. The entire book is told in first person by Nizhoni, a 15-year old Navajo girl, when the book begins in 1939. She weaves a tale of Navajo history with the lore of the Old Ones and her own story across the years between 1939 and 1964.
A continuing thread is the unrelenting domination of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; the Navajo have no authority over their lives. The book opens with BIA-employed "Rangers" enforcing a sheep quota because farmers in the Dust Bowl are blaming the terrible dust storms on the grazing practices of the Navajo. Nizhoni and her sister are rounded up with other Navajo children and shipped off to Catholic institutions to become Americanized and learn "useful" skills. Nizhoni and her sister eventually return to the reservation to live among their own people.
The dominating thread in telling of this story, however, is the life-giving strength given to the Navajo by the Old Ones. Among other things, Spider Woman gave the Navajo women the gift of weaving, and it is from that long-ago gift that Nizhoni is able to weave the threads of her life into whole cloth for her niece, Shiyazhi.