ALFONSO ORTIZ (1939 - 1998)

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ALFONSO ORTIZ - April 30, 1939 - September 27, 1998 - San Juan Pueblo

Dr. Alfonso Ortiz, an anthropologist who occupied an unusual spot in academia as a Pueblo Indian writing about his own people, found himself ostracized by some of his own people, who felt that he had betrayed religious secrets. But his colleagues hailed his book as a masterpiece. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship in 1975, and became a MacArthur Fellow in 1982.

In a conversation with a reporter, Dr. Ortiz insisted that he had not revealed important secrets and that much of the material had already leaked out over the years in anthropology journals. But by weaving the threads into a coherent theory, he attracted the attention not only of academics but also of the Tewa themselves, becoming persona non grata among some tribal elders.

Alfonso Ortiz was born on April 30, 1939 at San Juan, the largest of the six surviving Tewa pueblos. He excelled as a high school student in the nearby town of Espanola, N.M., winning a National Merit Scholarship and earning a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of New Mexico in 1961. After a year at Arizona State University, he received his master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology at the University of Chicago. He taught at Princeton University for seven years before returning home in 1974 as a professor at the University of New Mexico.  

Biography Souce: The New York Times