Thunder rides a black horse, by Claire Farrer

1551 Words Oct 5th, 1995 7 Pages
I feel that what Claire Farrer means by living in the 'mythic present' is that although most Indian culture is perceived long to have been different, it is in fact very live and active today. I will give specific examples from her book, Thunder Rides a Black Horse, to support my arguments of what the 'mythic present' actually means and list many examples of events that could be considered to be in the 'mythic present.'

First I will define the mythic present in the terms that Claire Farrer actually uses in

her book. She states, 'For the Indians I know on several reservations in theAmerican West and Southwest, life is lived in what I term the 'mythicpresent.' What mainstream Americans consider to have happened longago, if it happened at
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He explained how the Apache can look at the constellations and planets and determine what time it is, even though as the seasons change, so do the times. This was difficult for the author to understand or learn even though she spent a great deal of time at the reservation over many years. She says, 'to be a competent star watcher at Mescalero requires years of watching until the sky becomes as familiar as the back of one's own hand' (99).

There are many other examples of the Apache ability to tell time using astronomical and instinctive methods. This process has been employed by the Apache for hundreds of years and is an example of the mythic present involved in thought and application.

The second example of the mythic present is the Apache kin-system. Their method of tracing ancestry is matrilineal, meaning only traced through their mothers. This method differs from that of the western world in which kinship is traced through both mother and father, called bi-laterally.

This system also applies to Apache customs. The Mescalero homes and their

contents belong to women; only sisters and brothers in ascending generations are allowed

to chastise or discipline children (30). Farrer also states, 'since sisters and brothers are

always in the same family, it is the mother's brothers who are the disciplinarians, those with

authority' (30). One's siblings and first cousins through their mothers are all called 'sister'

and 'brother' in

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