The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Whiteman": Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols Among the Western Apache (1979),
and Western Apache Language and Culture: Essays in Linguistic Anthropology (1990).
This study focuses on Western Apache placenames, the stories associated with
them, and the important role of the sense of place in the Western Apache lan-
guage and culture.
Basso's Apache informants are also clearly his long-term friends (he began
fieldwork in Cibecue in 1959). He is careful to abide by restrictions imposed by
them on his publication. These Apache come close to co-authoring this book,
which, in the best tradition of interpretive and postmodern anthropology, is
multivocal, self-reflexive, and rooted in local knowledge. Each of his chapters fo-
cuses on one storyteller and the placenames he or she summons. Each also de-
scribes Basso's quest for understanding of the Apache language and the
meanings of stories as well as his deepening relationships with the storytellers.
Basso deals with "retrospective world-building," which he terms place-making,
"a way of constructing history itself, of inventing it, of fashioning novel versions
of 'what happened here."' Basso notes that Apache history has no authorities,
but is socially constructed. To an Apache, where things happened is more im-
portant than when they happened.
He correlates texts with the rest of Apache thought "until it is possible to con-
front the texts directly and expose the major premises on which they rest." Most
of the texts are morality and cautionary tales featuring a person who violated
Apache custom and suffered the consequences. Such stories are used to "stalk"
someone behaving improperly, and the miscreant is reminded of the story by
the placenames every time he or she walks past those places. Placenames are so
evocative of the stories that one can almost carry on a conversation with them.
Apaches believe that "wisdom sits in places" so that one can cultivate a
smooth, uncluttered mind, attuned to threats not yet apparent, by reflecting on
names and their tales. "These names are good to say," one old Apache observes.
Basso assumes the persona of a genial guide ("Let us be off . .."), and al-
though the book contains much complex linguistic analysis, it is readable and
accessible to a general audience. It won the 1996 Western States Book Award for
Creative Nonfiction.
Apart from its intrinsic interest, perhaps, the greatest service performed by the
book is to reveal the depth and complexity of the Western Apache sense of
place. Their attachment to the land goes far beyond a New Age mysticism or the
nostalgia with which most non-Native Americans think of place, and helps ex-
plain by extension why removal and dispossession were such tragic, wrenching
events in the lives of Native Americans.
St. Edward's University JOE O'NEAL
The Rebel: Leonor Villegas de Magn6n. Edited by Clara Lomas. (Houston: Arte
Pdblico Press, 1994. Pp. lvi+297. Preface, introduction, illustrations, appen-
dixes i-v. ISBN 1-55885-056-2. $12.00, paper.)

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed November 20, 2014.