Navaho Legends

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Author: Matthews, Washington (1843-1905)

Year: 1897

Publisher: Published for the American Folk-Lore Society by G E Stechert and Company

Place: New York


xii+299 pages with frontispiece, two page map, plates, figures, photographs, music scores, bibliography and index. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6 1/4") bound in original publisher's burgundy cloth with gilt lettering to spine and gilt rule to head edge. Collected and translated by Washington Matthews with introduction, notes, illustrations, texts, interlinear translations and melodies. First edition.

Washington Matthews was a surgeon in the United States Army, ethnographer, and linguist known for his studies of Native American peoples, especially the Navajo. Matthews was posted at Fort Union in what is now Montana in 1865. It was there that an enduring interest in Native American peoples and languages took root. He would go on to serve at a series of forts in Dakota Territory until 1872: Fort Berthold, Fort Stevenson, Fort Rice, and Fort Buford. He was a part of General Alfred H. Terry's expedition in Dakota Territory in 1867. While stationed at the Fort Berthold in the Dakota Territory, he learned to speak the Hidatsa language fluently, and wrote a series of works describing their culture and language: a description of Hidatsa-Mandan culture, including a grammar and vocabulary of the Hidatsa language and an ethnographic monograph of the Hidatsa.[5] He also described, though less extensively, the related Mandan and Arikara peoples and languages. (Some of Matthews' work on the Mandan was lost in a fire before being published.) There is some evidence that Matthews married a Hidatsa woman during this time. John Wesley Powell of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology suggested that Matthews be assigned to Fort Wingate, near what is now Gallup, New Mexico. It was there that Matthews came to know the people who would become the subject of his best known work, the Navajo. His work on the Navajo served to dispel then-current erroneous thinking about the complexity of Navajo culture. Matthews is said to have been initiated into various secret Navajo rituals.


Front end paper detached, previous owner's name to half title, Corners and edges bumped, spine ends rubbed, some fading and staining to edges, spine gilt dulled else about very good.

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