Review: Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Religion by Karl W. Luckert
Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Religion, written by Karl W. Luckert, is the first volume in the American Tribal Religions Series, published by the Museum of Northern Arizona in 1977. In this fascinating work, Luckert explores the religious significance of the Rainbow Bridge rock formation and Navajo Mountain, as well as the cultural impact of the construction of Lake Powell on the Navajo people.
Luckert’s ethnographic research is meticulous and thorough, as he interviews numerous Navajo elders to gather information and stories about the sacred landscape of the Navajo people. This book stands out for its ability to capture the unique character and mannerisms of the Navajos interviewed, providing readers with a deep understanding of the religious significance the landscape holds for them. Through these interviews, readers can feel the importance of the Navajo homeland and the desecration that occurs when sacred sites are disturbed, such as the construction of radio towers on sacred mountains.
Luckert’s dedication to ethnography is evident in his attention to detail and his extensive use of tape recordings, photography, and bilingual Navajos to assist in his work. This approach ensures that his translations can be easily checked or reinterpreted by other researchers. Moreover, his editorial skills are noteworthy, as he has made an effort to publish bilingual texts and support the American Tribal Religions Series, contributing to the accessibility of native American texts.
However, the book has some limitations in its interpretation of data. Luckert attempts to discern a diachronic sequence of events and historical development within his collected data, which may not be well supported by the available historical data. His interpretations occasionally lean towards speculation rather than firmly validated conclusions. Despite this, the book remains an important and enjoyable read for those interested in Navajo religion and culture.
Luckert, K. W., Goossen, I. W., Bilagody, H. Jr., Birney, H., Yellowhair, Z., & Yazzie, W. R. (1977). Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Religion. Museum of Northern Arizona.
Luckert, Karl W., et al. Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Religion. Museum of Northern Arizona, 1977.
Luckert, Karl W., Irvy W. Goossen, Harry Bilagody Jr., Hoffman Birney, Zhunie Yellowhair, and Wilson R. Yazzie. Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Religion. Museum of Northern Arizona, 1977.