Stephen A. Colston, Book Review Editor
Letters from Wupatki.
By Courtney Reeder Jones. Edited by Lisa Rappoport. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995. Illustrations. Notes. xxvii + 151 pages. $24.95 (clothbound). $13.95 (paper). Buy this book.
Situated forty-five miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona, the Wupatki National Monument contains ruins built by the Sinagua peoples during the twelfth century. Around one hundred years before it was formally designated as a monument by the United States government in 1924, the region within and adjacent to the boundaries of the monument became a home for Navajo families.
In 1938, a newly married couple, David and Courtney Jones, set up residence in an eight-hundred-year-old native structure lying within the monument’s grounds. While David, then a ranger in the National Park Service, was Wupatki’s full-time caretaker, his young bride not only capably performed custodial duties in her own right (as a non-paid employee) but faithfully chronicled her eleven-year residency at the monument in letters to family members and friends. Some one-hundred and thirty of these letters about the Jones’ Wupatki experiences were selected and edited by their friend, Lisa Rappoport, for publication in this handsomely produced volume. Courtney Jones’ correspondence provides a vivid account of a myriad of activities, including the implementation of National Park Service policies and various archaeological programs, the economic and ceremonial life ways of local Navajos, and her own struggles with adapting to a physically challenging environment. The author, who is presently living with her husband in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has produced a valuable and singular first-hand account that is recommended to readers with interests in the native cultures of the twentieth-century American Southwest.
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