Apache Voices: Their Stories of Survival as Told to Eve Ball

Apache Voices: Their Stories of Survival as Told to Eve Ball

Apache Voices: Their Stories of Survival as Told to Eve Ball

Apache Voices: Their Stories of Survival as Told to Eve Ball

Synopsis

In the 1940s and 1950s, long before historians fully accepted oral tradition as a source, Eve Ball (1890-1984) was taking down verbatim the accounts of Apache elders who had survived the army's campaigns against them in the last century. These oral histories offer new versions -- from Warm Springs, Chiricahua, Mescalero, and Lipan Apache -- of events previously known only through descriptions left by non-Indians. A high school and college teacher, Ball moved to Ruidoso, New Mexico, in 1942. After winning their confidence, Ball would ultimately interview sixty-seven Apache people.

Excerpt

In one of my first jobs, I worked for a mining tycoon who had made his fortune reprocessing tailings piles from the last century. He figured the old technology had left gold behind in the rust-colored mounds that dotted Colorado's mountains, and he was right. I've thought a lot about him in the years spent on this work.

I did the scholarly equivalent in mining the raw data of historian Eve Ball. She had interviewed the elderly survivors of the Apache wars and written In the Days of Victorio and Indeh: An Apache Odyssey. Like others who read the books, I wanted to write about Victorio's sister Lozen, the woman warrior. Seeking more information, I tracked Eve's papers to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. There I prowled page by page through seventeen boxes of stuff that hadn't been sorted, much less archived. It was still in the same state in which Eve had shipped it years earlier. This is no criticism of BYU; Dennis Rowley, curator of special collections, intended to archive the papers, but cancer would see that he didn't. Still, Dennis and his staff were enormously helpful to me.

It quickly became clear that this wouldn't be the usual research project. As I sat in the library, sneezing and blowing my nose from years-old dust and pollen in the files, my search became more personal. The boxes yielded portions of transcripts, manuscripts, notes to clerical help --sometimes held together with Eve's bobby pins--along with letters to friends and fellow writers, written in large script, describing her deteriorating vision and repeated cataract operations. At one point, I found the magnifying screen she used to see her own work.

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