Scott Momaday on Mission Churches

By car, unless you happened to come on the old road from San Ysidro, which was by and large a horse-and-wagon path, you entered the pueblo on the east side, on a street (that word is not entirely appropriate -- "street," as Americans in cities and suburbs think of that word, does not truly indicate any of the ancient ways of that place, but it will have to do) which curved around the front of the Pueblo Church. The church was a large adobe building with three old Spanish bells in the facade and a burial ground in the yard. The Roman Catholic churches of the pueblos are so old, many of them, that they seem scarcely to impose an alien aspect upon the native culture; rather, they seem themselves almost to have been appropriated by that culture and to express it in its own terms. The church at Jemez has not the rich rude beauty of the ruins at Acoma, or even of the church at Zia, say; nonetheless there is considerable strength and dignity in it. The extant parish records go back to 1720.

From The Names by N. Scott Momaday, Harper Colophon Books
© 1976 N. Scott Momaday Buy Now

Books by N. Scott Momaday

House Made of Dawn, HarperCollins. (Hardcover Commerative Reissue)
The Way to Rainy Mountain, Univ. New Mexico Press. (Hardcover Commerative Reissue)
The Names, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover Commerative Reissue)
The Ancient Child, HarperCollins.
The Man Made of Words, Griffin. (Hardcover)
In the Presence of the Sun : Stories and Poems, St. Martin's Press.
In the Bear's House, St. Martin's Press.
          Children's Books
Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story, Univ. New Mexico Press. (Hardcover)
          Cassettes with Momaday reading his work
Storyteller, Sunset Productions.
House Made of Dawn the Names the Gourd Dancer: 'Tsoai and the Shieldmaker', American Audio Prose Library.

A number of photographs of Mission churches built on Indian lands is available from the Special Collections and Archives Department, Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.
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