Book Review – People of the Blue Water: A Record of Life Among the Walapai and Havasupai Indians

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I had this book on my shelf for many years before actually reading it.  As I was packing to move to the southwest I found it and decided that it was the perfect time to put it at the top of my to read list.  I’m very glad that I did.  My primary complaint with the book is that it was too short.  I wanted to know so much more – about the Native American people and customs and about the author and her motivations and experiences.  The author’s abiity to evoke that sense of wonder and curiosity is a testament to both the subject and her writing style.

There were times when I was horrified by some of the customs and found it difficult to keep reading.  I almost quit several times.  If you are an animal lover – beware.  While episodes of what I would call extreme cruelty were explained within the culture and zeitgeist, it didn’t make it any more palatable.  On the other hand, there are certainly positive lessons to be learned as well.


The book was highly readable and is really a compilation of events that were shared in letters with the author’s family.  I could imagine these tales being retold in social gatherings and probably gaining a life of their own.  I can only imagine what a mother far away must have thought about her daughter’s adventures.  I am sure I would have been both proud and horrified.

The description of the location made me remember fondly my own trips to the Grand Canyon and to yearn for another trip.  Now that I live closer, that might happen more often.

Live vicariously – read People of the Blue Water by Flora Gregg Iliff.

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