A Yaqui Life: The Personal Chronicle of a Yaqui Indian

A Yaqui Life: The Personal Chronicle of a Yaqui Indian

A Yaqui Life: The Personal Chronicle of a Yaqui Indian

A Yaqui Life: The Personal Chronicle of a Yaqui Indian

Synopsis

Jane Holden Kelley, a professor of archaeology at the University of Calgary, is the author of Yaqui Women: Contemporary Life Histories (1978), also a Bison Book. Her father, William Curry Holden, a trained historian and anthropologist, met the Yaqui narrator of this chronicle, Rosalio Moisés, in 1934. They remained close friends until Moisés's death in 1969.

Excerpt

By Jane Holden Kelley

William Curry Holden first met Rosalio Moisés in 1934, and their destinies were curiously intertwined from that date. One was a trained historian and part-time anthropologist, the other a gifted observer of life around him with the remarkable facility of memory that one often finds among groups who rely on oral rather than written history. This book is a culmination of their mutual influence on each other and on me. It is not a Yaqui ethnography. Rather, it is the story of one Yaqui whose lifetime coincided with a vital era in Yaqui history. I have chosen to call it a personal chronicle both because of the strong historical awareness that forms an integral part of Rosalio's world and because of the rather disjointed, episodic character of the narrative, which lacks the smooth flow of a story line pursuing a well-ordered theme. The title comes from a belief deeply held by Rosalio that every person on earth has a candle in heaven and, except in cases of accidental death, one lives until his candle burns down.

It is not my purpose in this Introduction to provide a full Yaqui history and cultural description, but only as much background as the reader needs to understand Rosalio's story. The first two sections, "The Setting" and "A Historical Sketch," are simply capsule versions of the materials that are more ably and amply presented in the books listed in the Selected Bibliography. Indeed, for the reader who is acquainted with the works of Edward Spicer and Ralph Beals, these first two sections are superfluous. People and events described in this personal chronicle are tied into generalized Yaqui history in a third section of the Introduction, which concludes with an ethnographic description. The latter has two purposes. In the main, it is meant to provide background for the reader; in addition, some ethnographic details emerge from Rosalio's story that have not previously been recorded for the Yaquis, and they are hereby added to the ethnographic record.

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