The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940 Page: 416
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The first chapter presents the main outlines of Pueblo cere-
monial organization; it describes the most important societies,
their membership, officers and functions. Chapter II deals with
the spirits or supernatural beings recognized by the Pueblos, and
includes a very lucid account of the kachina, one of the most
distinctive features of Pueblo ceremonialism. The third chapter
considers the most important cosmogonic and cosmological con-
cepts and describes the Pueblo after-world. Chapter IV, the
longest in Volume I, discusses in detail such features of ritual
as offerings, fetishes, and mimetic and purificatory rites. The
all-important ceremonial calendar, based on astronomical observa-
tion and adapted to the economic cycle, is considered in the fifth
It is Chapters VI and VII, however, which form the core of
the book, for here the various types of ceremonies are described.
Chapter VI gives descriptive accounts of nearly all the Pueblo
ceremonies that have been recorded by the ethnologists. Chapter
VII covers the same ground, but is organized differently; it con-
sists of a town by town review of the ceremonies. To the ethnol-
ogist one of the most interesting parts of the book is Chapter
VIII, entitled Variation and Borrowing. This throws new light
on the variations in social organization and religion from town to
town among the Pueblos, and in addition provides a check list of
cultural traits which the Pueblos have in common with other
Indian groups in the western half of the United States and in
northern Mexico, including the Aztecs. The final chapter dis-
cusses other processes of cultural change as illustrated by Pueblo
religion-acculturation, invention, resistance, etc., and shows how
strongly Mrs. Parsons has been influenced by Franz Boas and
Ruth Benedict. A fifteen-page bibliography and a carefully pre-
pared index running to 60 pages are worth mention; and an
appendix lists problems that merit future study.
No brief review can do justice to this voluminous publication.
For the first time we have a synthesis of the great body of facts
that has been collected regarding the religious behavior of the
Pueblo Indians. This will be useful not only to ethnologists in
general but also to students of comparative religion. The book
is so rich in detail that at times the reader has a feeling of
surfeit, but there is always a summing up at the proper point.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940, periodical, 1940; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101111/m1/440/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.