American Indians and Anthropology

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Spider Woman: A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters

Gladys Reichard

This lively account of a pioneering anthropologist's experiences with a Navajo family grew out of the author's desire to learn to weave as a way of participating in Navajo culture rather than observing it from the outside. In 1930, when Gladys Reichard came to stay with the family of Red-Point, a well-known Navajo singer, it was unusual for an anthropologist to live with a family and become intimately connected with women's activities. First published in 1934 for a popular audience, Spider Woman is valued today not just for its information on Navajo culture but as an early example of the kind of personal, honest ethnography that presents actual experiences and conversations rather than generalizing the beliefs and behaviors of a whole culture. Readers interested in Navajo weaving will find it especially useful, but Spider Woman's picture of daily life goes far beyond rugs to describe trips to the trading post, tribal council meetings, curing ceremonies, and the deaths of family members.


Louise Lamphere has been a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico since 1986. She is also former president of the American Anthropological Association.

5.5 x 8 in. 334 pages 29 halftones