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A Zuni Life: A Pueblo Indian in Two Worlds Hardcover – March, 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

An account of Virgil Wyaco's life in both the traditional Zuni and modern Anglo worlds. His varied career demonstrates the heartbreaks and rewards of a Native American life bridging two cultures in the twentieth century. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Here Virgil Wyaco, a Zuni Indian elder and leader, recounts his life in both the traditional Zuni and modern Anglo worlds. As a boy, Wyaco learned Zuni ways from his family and the English language and vocational skills in Anglo schools. Earning a Bronze Star during World War II, he killed German soldiers in combat and participated in the summary execution of SS guards at Dachau. His postwar career included college at the University of New Mexico, federal employment, marriage to a Cherokee woman, and family life in the suburbs. Later, Wyaco returned to Zuni as postmaster and married a traditional Zuni woman. His election to the Zuni tribal council in 1970 quickly established him as an influential leader. His varied career demonstrates the heartbreaks and rewards of a Native American life bridging two cultures in the twentieth century. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of New Mexico Pr; 1st edition (March 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826318800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826318800
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,208,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Theodore A. Rushton on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a magnificent book, written with skill, sensitivity, insight and the gentle teasing humor that is characteristic of Zuni. After reading it, anyone will easily understand why Tony Hillerman is still an "outsider" to many Native Americans.
My dealings with the Zunis began in 1967, when I began writing stories about some aspects of life in Zuni and was honored enough to be the recipient of some of their teasing. It's a good place to start: British humor centers on clever word plays, American humor is blunt slapstick, while the essence of Zuni humor is kindly and gentle teasing.
After all, they've lived and prospered in the Southwest for as far back as science can trace. In Zuni terms, they've been here since the beginning of the world. They learned to live in one of the harshest climates of the United States without depending on outsiders. It's only since the coming of the Anglos, which Wyaco portrays as oddball outsiders who vary from insensitivity cruelty to bumbling kindness, that many Zunis have become dependent upon a sometimes crazy American world.
His experiences in World War II, which included winning the Bronze Star, are an example. The all-Anglo draft board in Gallup, which easily filled its quotas by drafting Indians, shipped him off to Santa Fe for his medical. He wanted to join the Navy to get out of walking, but was rejected because he'd once suffered three broken ribs when he was kicked by a horse. So, the draft board tried again and sent him off to the Army where he was accepted, even though he'd have to march every day.
"It didn't make any sense then. It doesn't now," he writes. The book is filled with such examples of non-Zuni illogic. As a combat rifleman, he killed his share of Germans.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a very touching book for me. I had visited the Zuni pueblo and had the experience of viewing the Rain Dance as a guest of one of the Zuni families. It was an awesome experience and then to read from a Zuni perspective the significance of the ceremony was very special to me. Having been a long time collector of Zuni fetish, to better understand the culture was very interesting. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the Zuni culture and a true picture from a Native view.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a regular visitor to Zuni Pueblo, having fallen in love with Zuni art and jewelry as a child. This book is a great, very readable introduction to life in Zuni.

While there is some self promotion evident on the part of the author in the book, it remains a very engaging and interesting story that gives a great introduction to the world view of the Zuni.

The first pages grab you and draw you in to the unique Zuni perspective of the world and life.
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