Antonio R. Garcez,
American Indian Ghost Stories of the Southwest
(Red Rabbit, 2000)

American Indian Ghost Stories of the Southwest will put you on the edge of your seat and keep you reading from the first page until the end. Antonio R. Garcez has a vivid writing style that allows you to feel as if you are witnessing an event taking place right in front of you. Because of this, his stories will have a haunting effect long after you put the book down.

These are stories that come from people who have actually encountered ghosts. In many cases they have been spoken to or even touched them. Although some of the stories came from Hispanic witnesses, the author felt they should be included because the Hispanic and Native American cultures are so entwined in the Southwest.

I especially like the introduction. Garcez goes into detail about how the cultural beliefs of the Native Americans differ from the Euro-Americans in regard to ghosts and the spirit realm. This will provide great insight for non-native readers. He also points out how the beliefs differ from tribe to tribe but have certain recurrent themes.

One theme that he found in all non-native stories is of the building erected on top of an Indian burial site. He tells us that these stories represent the "unwritten codes of social conduct," and that they have helped to form the present Native American cultures. He completes his introduction with a request that non-natives stop exploiting Native American beliefs and sacred or ceremonial objects. For that, I thank him.

The stories are grouped by location. Each location has an introduction that provides a brief description of the area, overview of the history of the area, and any major events or people that have shaped the region. These average one page in length and are accompanied by a photograph of the region.

The stories are accompanied by a photograph of the person supplying the story or of the building, grave or other item featured in the story. There are numerous illustrations to enhance them.

My favorite of the stories is "Henry Tall Horse's Story." He tells about sneaking up on two spirits and watching their strange dance and shapeshifting. When he arrived home and told his father what had happened, his father explained about the spirits. You have to read this to appreciate the respect Native Americans have for ghosts and spirits!

This is a fascinating book that will provide you with entertainment over and over.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 19 April 2003

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