Thunder rides a black horse, by Claire Farrer

Essay by Brian LamarUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 1995

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

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 all,is real and present during everyday life onreservations' (2).

Farrer obviously feels that there are many misconceptions among the mainstream Americans about the Indians, inparticularly the Mescalero Apache. I feel she uses her book primarily as actual proof that in many ways the Indians' culture is the same now in thought, song, narrative, everyday life, religion, and in rituals as many generations before the present.

The three major examples of life in the 'mythic present' that I will primarily be discussing are the astronomical concept of the Mescalero Apache, the kin-system that the Apache implore, and lastly the Apache girl's puberty ceremony. Although I have only selected three examples, there are obviously many more such as the cultural heroine, White Painted Woman, the creation process in which Apache people are seen as the weakest link in the being-chain, and reciprocity, among others.

The first example of the 'mythic present' I will discuss is the astronomical concept that the Apache Indians have and how they apply it. This...