The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Winter 1973, Volume 19, Number 1
James E. Moss, Editor
David J. Weber, Book Review Editor
The Indians and I: Visits with the Diegueños, Quechans, Fort Mojaves, Zunis, Hopis, Navajos, and Piutes. By Peter Odens. El Centro, Ca.: 1971. 80 pages. Price not listed.
Reviewed by Harry Kelsey, Chief Curator of History at the Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles County.
Journalist, broker, and public relations man, Peter Odens has been interested in the American Indian since he was a boy in Germany reading the novels of Karl May. After moving to the United States in the fifties, he found that Indians accepted his Thai wife as one of their own because she “looks like an Indian.” Thus, the Odens were able to make friends with many Indian families throughout the Southwest. This slim, paperbound volume is an account of Indians Odens has known or heard about from Indian informants.
There is not much history in the book, but what is there is good enough to satisfy the traveler who wants to retrace the Odenses’ odysseys through the Southwest. The best parts of the book are the accounts of conversations with Indian old-timers. Henrietta Peterson, an artist in clay and beadwork from the Fort Mojave Reservation, became friendly with the Odens because she thought the author’s wife belonged to a neighboring tribe. Her story is worth reading, as are the accounts of the modern Zuni silversmiths and two stories about modern Hopis and Navajos.
I have one carping criticism. The photograph of the exhumed remains of the Piute leader Posey would be offensive in any publication. It clearly has no place in a book by a writer who claims to have many Indian friends.