By Jerold S. Auerbach
Starting within the overdue 19th century, the pueblos of the Southwest usually encouraged Anglo-American viewers to specific their experience of ask yourself and appeal in biblical references. Frank Hamilton Cushing's first account of Zuni pueblo defined a atmosphere that seemed like "The swimming pools of Palestine." interested in the Southwest, Mabel circumvent imagined "a backyard of Eden, inhabited via an unfallen tribe of fellows and women." There she used to be drawn to Tony Luhan, a Taos Indian who appeared "like a Biblical figure."
When historian Jerold Auerbach first observed Edward S. Curtis's early twentieth-century photo Taos Water Girls, he discovered that "here, certainly, was once the biblical Rebecca, relocated to New Mexico from old Haran, the place Abraham's devoted servant had journeyed to discover an appropriate spouse for Isaac. Rebecca together with her water pitcher is as normal a biblical icon as Noah and his ark or Moses with the stone pills. Curtis had recast her because the archetypal Pueblo maiden."
Explorers in Eden uncovers an interesting array of diaries, letters, memoirs, pictures, work, postcards, ads, anthropological box experiences, and scholarly monographs. They display how Anglo-Americans upset with smooth city business society built a deep and wealthy fascination with pueblo tradition via their biblical institutions.
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Additional info for Explorers in Eden: Pueblo Indians and the Promised Land
Cushing reluctantly complied; after an elaborate religious ceremony, he was symbolically reborn as a “Child of the Sun” and received his Zuni name. ”17 Cushing’s initiation into Zuni culture was a carefully choreographed encounter between uneasy partners with different agendas, engaged in an uncertain process whose outcome neither could precisely anticipate. Cushing might boldly assert his independence when he felt threatened, but he yielded submissively when enticing new opportunities for inclusion were offered.
Perhaps he was too ﬂamboyantly—or artiﬁcially—“native” to suit her taste. His very success as a participant observer, after all, collapsed boundaries between “civilization” 34 C HAP T E R O N E and “savagery” that she, like many of her contemporaries, may have preferred remain inviolate. By venturing into liminal space, neither Anglo nor Indian but a blend of both, Cushing seemed to have displayed the “sharpness” that struck her as dishonorable. ” Yet precisely when the sanctiﬁcation of Zuni as a utopian alternative to corrupted American modernity began to take hold among beguiled Eastern audiences, it was already too late; Zuni society, debilitated by alcoholism, disease, and factionalism, was anything but paradise.
46 Cushing was powerfully drawn to explore the tenuous evolutionary boundary between savagery and civilization, and inclined—according to the standards of his time—to transgress it. “Exploration,” he wrote not long before his untimely death in 1900, “is the breath of my life. ” Why study “savages”? ”47 Cushing’s conventional distinction between “civilized” and “savage” never blunted his sensitivity to the plight of his adopted tribe, shared by all the Native peoples of the United States. ” Yet the more deeply that Cushing explored Zuni culture, and the more closely that he identiﬁed with it, the more elusive it remained to him.