Maria was born into a powerful family of medicine men, and even though she showed great talent for medicine ways as a young child, she was not allowed to develop her skills. Shortly after her puberty ceremony, she was married into still another medicine family but was still not allowed to develop her gifts. When her medicine-man husband took a second wife (a common tradition among Papago medicine men at the time) Maria refused to accept the practice and returned to her family's home. Some time later, she married a man considerably older than herself, and was encouraged to develop her natural talents as a medicine woman. Maria went on to become well known in the entire Territory as an expert in the curing of infant illnesses.
Early in the 1930s, Maria served as guide and informant for Ruth Underhill, an ethnographer who was studying the Papago culture and lifeways. During the time spent with Underhill, Maria related many of her life experiences which was published in 1936 as "The Autobiography of a Papago Woman". These writings were later refined, a detailed introduction was written by Underhill, and it was published again in 1979 as "Papago Woman". It is still hailed today as an outstanding and complex portrait of the Papago culture from a woman's perspective, and contains many discussions of family life, seasonal cycles, ceremonial events and traditions.
Even though Maria was thoroughly familiar and at home with white
ways and customs, she preferred to live the traditional Native life. She
was accomplished in basketry, and lived the latter years of her life divided
between Tucson and her traditional ties on the Santa Rosa village of the
Papago Reservation. She died in 1936. For additional information about
Maria and the Papago you can order the following books online using our
links to Amazon.com:
|Author||Title, Type, ISBN Number||Click to Order|
|Ruth M Underhill||Papago Woman (Published 1984); Paperback; ISBN: 0881330426||......|
|Ruth M Underhill||Autobiography of a Papago Woman (Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association, No. 46/1936); (Published 1974); ISBN: 0527005452; (Hard to Find)||......|
|Gary Paul Nabhan||The Desert Smells Like Rain : A Naturalist in Papago Indian Country; Paperback; ISBN: 0865470502||......|
|Gary Paul Nabhan||The Desert Smells Like Rain : A Naturalist in Papago Indian Country; Audio Cassette; ISBN: 0939643308||......|
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