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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Book Reviews

II deplored as "triumphalism." It is, nevertheless, an instructive and
pleasant book to read.
St. Edward's University WILLIAM DUNN, C.S.C.
Tarahumara: Where the Night Is the Day of the Moon. By Bernard L.
Fontana. Photographs by John D. Schaefer. (Flagstaff, Arizona:
Northland Press, 1979. Pp. xv+167. Preface, illustrations, glos-
sary, bibliography, index. $20.)
Less than 300 air miles south of El Paso, amid the majestic peaks and
precipitous barrancas of the Sierra Madre Occidental in southwestern
Chihuahua, resides one of Mexico's most picturesque native peoples.
The Tarahumaras have long held a fascination for anthropologists,
who wonder how they have managed to maintain the stability of their
simple, ascetic lifestyle despite more than three centuries of Hispanic
contact and influence.
In this magnificently produced volume, ethnologist Bernard L. Fon-
tana seeks to provide an appreciation of the modern Tarahumaras by
demonstrating how well they have adapted to their natural environ-
ment. Although the author is obviously well versed on the history and
background of the tribe, he is quick to disclaim this as a scientific
study, since his observations are based on relatively few visits to their
mountain homeland. Nevertheless, by interspersing his own lucid de-
scriptions with those of earlier missionaries and anthropologists, he
manages to delightfully document the continuity of Tarahumara cul-
ture. Whatever of the beauty of these people and their surroundings is
not captured by his pen is splendidly conveyed in the eighty-five
photographs by John D. Schaefer, who, when not trucking off to the
wilds with Fontana, is gainfully employed as president of the Uni-
versity of Arizona.
Tarahumura means "foot-runners," an apt term for a people who,
living at elevations upwards to 9,000 feet, have found running to be a
most efficient means of transportation. The high-protein, low-meat diet
of these Indians, in combination with their natural mountain condi-
tioning, has served to make them superb endurance runners. (In a
1927 demonstration, for example, two tribesmen ran the ninety or so
miles between San Antonio and Austin in just under fifteen hours.) In
this age of seemingly growing asceticism in America, as evidenced by
sudden popularity of jogging and vegetarianism, the Tarahumaras
have a great deal of appeal. Realizing this, the author has concealed the

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/. Accessed April 30, 2016.

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