Monday, August 10, 2009

Read This: Spider Woman


Every once in a while a publishing company forgets to renew the copyright on a truly important book. When this happens, the book falls into the public domain, and we get to read it for free. The Internet Sacred Text archive recently found a wonderful book newly in the public domain: Spider Woman, by Gladys A. Reichard.

Gladys Reichard was one of the foremost authorities on the Navajo; she spent 25 years doing research on the Navajo reservation. She eventually learned to speak the complex Navajo language fluently. We are fortunate that this, her ethnography of Navajo weavers and herders, "Spider Woman" fell into the public domain. In this book, Reichard explores the intersection between the fiber arts, mythology, and sand painting, all told in first person. It succeeds as an ethnographic technical document and, although completely factual, reads like a novel.

Sand Painting

Looms on Whidbey Island.

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