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Pieces of White Shell

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  176 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
This unusual book is an introduction to Navajo culture by a storyteller. Steeped in the lore of the Navajo reservation, where she worked as a teacher, the author came to see Navajo legend and ritual as touchstones for evaluating her own experience. She presents them here as a means for all people to locate their own history, traditions, and sense of how to live well.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 1st 1987 by University of New Mexico Press (first published 1984)
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Feb 16, 2012 Chibineko rated it liked it
Shelves: school-read
While I liked this book, I'll be honest that I might not have read it if it wasn't a school read.

When it comes to immersing herself into the Navajo culture, Williams does an excellent job and at times it's very hard to remember that she's a white Mormon woman rather than someone who was born and raised Navajo. I'm sure that people more familiar with the Navajo culture could see where she's not born as such, but for the average Jane looking in...

The only problem I really had with this book was t
Laura (booksnob)
Oct 28, 2013 Laura (booksnob) rated it really liked it
Terry Tempest Williams is a fierce environmentalist and is doing her best to educate readers about the connection between the people, the animals and the land. Pieces of a White Shell delves into Terry's life as a teacher on the Navajo reservation in Utah and makes connections between Navajo culture, legend and history and Terry's own life and spiritual culture as a Mormon.

"I offer you a sampling of the Navajo voice, of my own voice and the voice of the land that moves us. We are told a story an
Jun 03, 2016 Lia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, favorites, g-r
Wonderfully beautiful. Vignettes like artifacts like spirits. This book is a votive shrine.

"I remember standing in front of a Fremont bracelet. It was a circle of prairie falcon talons laced together with rawhide. There was an aura I cannot explain. I wondered about the individual who had worn it, for what occasion it had been made. For a brief moment, I entered sacred time. Perhaps this is the performance of an artifact.

Sacred time. We cannot always live there. But if we know it exists, we can
Janet Wilcox
Dec 24, 2010 Janet Wilcox rated it really liked it
The first time I read this, 20 some years ago, I hadn't had time nor opportunity to get the feel of the land and people in SE Utah, as I was so busy being a mom. Now with many decades of life experiences among the Navajo and reservation, I found I could finally identify with her experiences and enjoy this book. So many of the places I've been to now. It makes a difference. Terry is a wonderful reader and story teller. Stories from this book are included in an audio version.
Sep 20, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
Williams writes about her experiences on the Navajo Nation and with the people that she met while she worked on the Navajo Nation. She is poetic and she weaves in the stories that she heard while there. She tries very hard to understand the land and the people. Although it is a good book by Williams, Just remember that if you want true insight into the Navajo people and land, you should definitely read a book written by a Navajo author. :)
Monica Spencer
Jul 27, 2012 Monica Spencer rated it liked it
Insightful look at the Diné culture from an outsider's perspective. However, this read more as "Diné Culture 101" than a series of personal essays. I would have liked to have read more on how she personally related to and was impacted by living and working on the reservation.
Jane Wolfe
Jul 10, 2011 Jane Wolfe rated it it was amazing
In this book, Terry Tempest Williams uses the essay form to weave Native American stories, flora and fauna of the southwest with her sense of spirituality. In doing so, she gently nudges the reader to consider their own stories. As always, Williams' essays are a joy to read.
Colleen Mertens
This was an interesting memoir. The author's descriptions of her home and life teaching were interesting and vivid. I loved her stories and the way she blended the myths with real life. This was an interesting read and I enjoyed it very much.
Explores the experiences of the author teaching on the Navajo reservation. Describes how her growing appreciation for the culture of the Native American people helped her understand her own heritage and people.
Feb 28, 2010 Rae rated it liked it
Along with Refuge, this was my first introduction to Terry Tempest Williams. I absolutely flipped over her writing style and her love of the desert Southwest. I've been a huge fan ever since.
Jackie Harris
Feb 05, 2012 Jackie Harris rated it liked it
This was an interesting book in regards to learning the Navajo Culture. I wouldn't have particularly chosen to read it on my own, but overall, not a bad read.
Feb 09, 2009 Ariane rated it liked it
I always wanted more from her in terms of scientific fact or explanations and a little less on the prose. But that's just me I suppose.
An exquisite piece of writing about one of my favorite places on the planet: Canyon de Chelley in northern Arizona. Lovely.
Jun 12, 2008 Eliza rated it it was amazing
Wonderful navajo stories all woven around items in a small pouch worn around one's for thought!
Jamie Akins
Oct 10, 2012 Jamie Akins rated it really liked it
Interesting read on American Indian folklore and beliefs.
Dec 02, 2013 Marilee rated it really liked it
Reminded me of living in Mexican hat.
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Terry Tempest Williams is an American author, conservationist and activist. Williams’ writing is rooted in the American West and has been significantly influenced by the arid landscape of her native Utah in which she was raised. Her work ranges from issues of ecology and wilderness preservation, to women's health, to exploring our relationship to culture and nature.

She has testified before Congres
More about Terry Tempest Williams...

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“What is the most important thing one learns in school? Self-esteem, support, and friendship.” 43 likes
“Story is the umbilical cord that connects us to the past, present, and future. Family. Story is a relationship between the teller and the listener, a responsibility. . . . Story is an affirmation of our ties to one another.” 26 likes
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