Joe S. Sando,
Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity through Centuries of Change
(Clear Light, 1998)

Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity through Centuries of Change takes an unusual approach to teaching the history and culture of a people and region. This author chose to tell the story of his people through profiles of 32 persons who changed or affected pueblo life and three stories about historical incidents. This is a literary collage of who's who among the Pueblo people.

The author states his purpose as two-fold. He hopes that the young Indians will read the book and realize that it is possible to achieve lofty goals through education and setting goals. He hopes it will "eliminate stereotypes, misconceptions and distortions" and serve to make non-Indians aware of the numerous problems facing American Indians today, such as sovereignty and water rights.

The book begins with the story of Po' Pay and the first American Revolution. This is the first time that the story of the 1680 revolt by the Pueblo people against the Spanish has been told from the perspective of the Pueblos -- their "legacy, tradition and common law." It is a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat and reads more like a work of fiction than something that could, and did, happen right here on American soil. Taxation without representation is nothing compared to what the Spanish put the Pueblos through!

Joe Sando brings us through the centuries to the present time, demonstrating how external factors have influenced the people and created cause for change. You know the story: they got rid of the Spanish and things were beginning to get back toward normal, when the Europeans arrived ... and there went the neighborhood! Though the Pueblo people never suffered the forced removal from their sacred homeland and they did have a state government that has been more tolerant of native spirituality than most, they have suffered countless atrocities at the hands of the federal government and American citizens.

Imagine sending your intelligent and articulate child to school and having the school officials look at your child, note the child's race and place the child in a slow-learner group. Now, imagine being that child. Are you thinking that we should not be "dredging up ancient history," as one of my friends worded it?

Well, meet Gregory Cajete, Ph.D., born in 1952 and placed in a slow-learner group sometime around 1958. Meet Gregory Cajete, instructor at the University of New Mexico and the creator of Tewa Educational Consulting. Meet Gregory Cajete, lecturer on indigenous science and native plants, as well as other subjects. Meet Gregory Cajete, accomplished sculptor, jewelry maker and author of Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence.

These are only two of the stories that will shock, enchant, motivate, disturb and delight you. The story of the Pueblo people is a story of the patience to endure, the courage to take a stand, and the dogged determination to overcome obstacles and excel against all odds.

Pueblo Profiles is a truly outstanding and ingenious work. This book should be required reading in every school in America! Sando's technique for teaching about his people may be out of the ordinary, but it certainly succeeds in his mission. You will not want to miss this one.

book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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