Left Handed, Son of Old Man Hat: A Navajo Autobiography
Author: Walter Dyk, Left Handed
Publisher: Bison Book University of Nebraska Press (1967)
With a simplicity as disarming as it is frank, Left Handed tells of his birth in the spring of 1868 “when the cottonwood leaves were about the size of [his] thumbnail,” of family chores such as guarding the sheep near the hogan, and of his sexual awakening. As he grows older, his account turns to life in the open: nomadic cattle-raising, farming, trading, communal enterprises, tribal dances and ceremonies, lovemaking, and marriage.
As Left Handed grows in understanding and stature, the accumulated wisdom of his people is revealed to him. He learns the Navajo lifeway, which is founded on the principles of honesty, foresightedness, and self-discipline. The style of the narrative is almost biblical in its rhythms, but biblical, too, in many respects, is the traditional way of life it recounts.