Wolfkiller: Wisdom From a Nineteenth-Century Navajo Shepherd

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9781423600305: Wolfkiller: Wisdom From a Nineteenth-Century Navajo Shepherd
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Fascinating history and compelling storytelling make Wolfkiller, the memoir of a Navajo shepherd man who lived in the Monument Valley region of the Southwest, a page-turning epic. In these stories compiled by Harvey Leake, Wolfkiller shares the ancient wisdom of the Navajo elders that was passed to him while a boy growing up near the Utah/Arizona border. Wolfkiller's story was recorded and translated by pioneer trader Louisa Wade Wetherill, an unlikely pairing that came together when she moved to this remote area of southern Utah in 1906. Wetherill recognized that Wolfkiller was a man of exceptional character, with lessons and wisdom of the Navajo that deserved to be recorded and preserved for the benefit of future generations.

Over the course of many years, Wolfkiller told his stories to Wetherill who translated them into English. When the manuscript was completed in 1932, modern society was simply not ready for it. Rejected by publishers, the document languished in the family archives until today, long after Wolfkiller and Mrs. Wetherill were gone, it can now be recognized as a unique and profound book that speaks to modern culture's compulsive rush away from nature.

Included are photographs of Wolfkiller and the Wetherills, all taken from about 1906 to 1926. More than forty other historical photographs are also included.

"If Mrs. Wetherill could be persuaded to write on the mythology of the Navajos, and also on their present-day psychology-by which somewhat magniloquent term I mean their present ways and habits of thought-she would render an invaluable service. She not only knows their language; she knows their minds. . . ." Theodore Roosevelt, after visiting the Wetherill trading post in 1913

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Wolfkiller is the remarkable life story of a Navajo herdsman and plant-gatherer who lived in the Monument Valley region of Navajo country, along the Utah/Arizona border, from about 1855 until 1926. Raised by his grandfather and mother, Wolfkiller learned the ancient wisdom of his people. He grew up seeing the beauty in nature and discovering how to face the wind, storms, cold, and even death with optimism and courage. Through his embrace of the natural world, he developed both a rare depth of character and an understanding of human relations that guided him through times of adversity.

Wolfkiller's story was recorded and translated by pioneer trader Louisa Wade Wetherill, who met him after moving to his community in the early twentieth century. After listening to Wolfkiller describe the wisdom of the elders he had learned as a child and by observing his respect for all of life, Louisa proposed that these lessons be preserved for the benefit of future generations.

Photographs of Wolfkiller and the Wetherills and other historical images are included throughout the book to help illustrate the mode of life, types of personalities, and environment in which Wolfkiller's story took place. Louisa Wade Wetherill was born in a small mining town in Nevada in 1877. When she was two years old, her family moved to the town of Mancos in southwestern Colorado. There she grew up and married rancher and explorer John Wetherill. In 1900, Louisa, John, and their two small children left Mancos and moved to a trading post among the Navajos in northwestern New Mexico. In 1906, the Wetherills moved to an isolated area in southeastern Utah where they established their Oljato trading post. Among their neighbors was Wolfkiller, a man Louisa quickly came to know and respect. For more than forty years she devoted herself to studying Navajo culture and became an advocate for recording their ancient customs. Her Navajo friends called her Asthon Sosi, Slim Woman.

Harvey Leake began tracing the trail of his great-grandparents, Louisa and John Wetherill, more than twenty-five years ago in libraries, archives, and family papers, and by listening to the recollections of the family elders. He assists in the interpretation of historical documents and photographs for the Wetherill archive at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

"If Mrs. Wetherill could be persuaded to write on the mythology of the Navajos . . . she would render an invaluable service. She not only knows their language; she knows their minds." Theodore Roosevelt, after visiting the trading post in 1913

"The ancient world and the American present meet in [Louisa Wetherill's] personality as perhaps in no other personality alive." John Collier, who later became U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs

From the Back Cover:

"If Mrs. Wetherill could be persuaded to write on the mythology of the Navajos, and also on their present-day psychology . . . she would render an invaluable service. She not only knows their language; she knows their minds." Theodore Roosevelt, after visiting the trading post in 1913

"The ancient world and the American present meet in [Louisa Wetherill's] personality as perhaps in no other personality alive." John Collier, who later became U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs

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9781423649243: Wolfkiller: Wisdom from a Nineteenth-Century Navajo Shephered

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