American Indians and Anthropology

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Navajo Blessingway Singer: The Autobiography of Frank Mitchell, 1881-1967

Edited by Charlotte J. Frisbie
Edited by David McAllester

This life history of a Navajo leader, recorded in the 1960s and first published in 1977, is a classic work in the study of Navajo history and religious traditions.

"A skillful, meticulous, and altogether praiseworthy contribution to Navajo studies. . . . Although the focus of Mitchell's autobiography is upon his role as a Blessingway singer, there is much material here on Navajo history and culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mitchell attended the government school at Fort Defiance, worked on the railroad in Arizona, served as a handyman and interpreter at several trading posts and the Franciscan missions, and later served as a tribal councilman in the 1930s and as a judge in the 1940s and 1950s. His observations on these experiences are relevant to our understanding of contemporary Navajo life."--Lawrence C. Kelly, Western Historical Quarterly

"This book stands easily among the best of the 'native' autobiographies. Narrated by a thoughtful and articulate Navajo leader over a span of eighteen years, this life history is brought into English with none of the selective romanticizing that has spoiled some books. . . . (It is) a superb job of bringing one culture ever closer to another."--Barre Tolken, Western Folklore


Charlotte J. Frisbie is professor emerita of anthropology at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.


"Well-written and well edited, this book is a jewel."


Southwest Bookshelf

"The power of the book mirrors the power of the man; sweeping, multifaceted, complex, parts seperate yet interrelated. . . .It is a life of struggle, a life of survival, a life of spiritual sacredness and most of all, it is a life given for all to share."


Indigenous Nations Studies Journal

"Mitchell's autobigraphy. . . is a valuable resource that incorporates oral history, anthropology, and history. . . . Frank Mitchell's life story remains a valuable contribution to Navajo studies."


New Mexico Historical Review

6 x 9 in. 472 pages 17 halftones