SPIDER WOMAN A Story of Navajo Weavers & Chanters
By Gladys A. Reichard
Publisher: The Macmillan Company, New York, 1934
Hardback with slip cover, first edition, 1934, 287 pages, beautifully illustrated.
Signed with the name Carolyn Yazzie on inside front cover.
Condition: very good condition with Scotch tape reinforcements on slip cover.
In the early 1930s, when Gladys Reichard wrote this book, New Mexico and Arizona were only new states and the term “Navajo” conjured up to most who heard it visions of savage Indians attacking pioneer wagon trains, western villages and outlying ranches. They do have a long history of aggression, but probably it is not so bad as it has often been painted. Still, even in 1930, it was unique for a white woman alone to go live among the Navajo, but that is exactly what Gladys Amanda Reichard did. This is the story of her absorbing adventure, told with graceful phrase and trenchant style.
Spider Woman instructed the Navajo women how to weave on a loom which Spider Man told them how to make. From this old legend, Miss Reichard takes her title for a most interesting and informative book. In drawing upon her many experiences and knowledge of Navajo life, she has presented them as a sincere and an active people. She tells of the difficulty of gathering herbs for the dyes and of the process in making the dyes; of the setting up of a loom and the art of weaving in the various patterns; and of the ceremonies, such as a wedding, the War Dance, and the Shooting Chant.
Spider Woman should interest any reader. There is something unfailingly fascinating about The Diné—those Americans of the great desert who still cling to ancient traditions and a way of life that has no place for the intruding white man.