#19 Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit by Leslie M. Silko

February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

In this essay Leslie Silko describes her great-grandmother’s beauty and how it was a manifestation of Pueblo culture.  Her beauty was manifested in her behavior, her strengths, her relationships and most importantly her uniqueness.  In this old-time Pueblo culture there existed the profound realization of each person’s uniqueness, and because of this you couldn’t compare yourself to others.  There were no gender stratifications in work, because the most able person simply did the job.  Everyone enjoyed a great deal of freedom in social life as well as in marriage.  Women in particular were greatly celebrated since the creator was a women.  Similarly, pregnancy celebrated no matter what the circumstances and seen as joyful.  Identity was acknowledged to be continuously in flux with various aspects always changing.  In short, the values and ideals produced a culture and community that was accepting and free.

While reading her essay I was in shock that such a society has already existed.   Did such an open and beautiful place and time really happen?  Was this another example of history being romaticized?  From what she described it sounds like nothing short of Utopia.  Of course history is always a bit romaticized but if these were truly the values upheld by these people then I believe it would have been a truly free and wonderful culture to live in.  What I wonder afterward is if it is possible to bring back these ideals?  Is the culture in the US too far gone to become egalitarian and open minded like the Pueblo people? 

§ One Response to #19 Yellow woman and a beauty of the spirit by Leslie M. Silko

  • You ask a great critical question about the “romantic” version of Silko’s piece. I think it would be great to research more perspectives on the ideas of beauty that existed in Pueblo culture. Even if I am not completely sure about the extent of this harmonious society, I do think Silko highlights important contrasts between Native American and Euro-American culture. I think it’s significant that in a society that believes in a woman/feminine Creator that the appreciation of and value for women is a lot higher than in societies where the Creator is believed to be male/masculine.

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