Left Handed, Son of Old Man Hat


Left Handed, Son of Old Man Hat

A Navajo Autobiography

Special edition, A Bison Classic Edition

Left Handed
Recorded by Walter Dyk
Foreword by Edward Sapir
New introduction by Jennifer Denetdale

Bison Classic Editions Series

354 pages


August 2018


$26.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2018


$26.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2018


$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

​Left Handed (Navajo) (1868–?) was a Diné man who was born at Hweéldi (the Bosque Redondo prison camp), where the American military held Navajos from 1863 to 1868, and then returned to the Navajo homeland with his family. At the time of Walter Dyk’s interviews about his life, he was positioned as an elder who had lived well and prospered. Walter Dyk (1899–1972) was a linguist who studied under Edward Sapir. He studied Navajo language and published Old MexicanJennifer Denetdale (Diné/Navajo) is the first Diné/Navajo to earn a PhD in history and is an associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. She is the author of Reclaiming Diné History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita and The Long Walk: The Forced Exile of the Navajo.



“An extraordinarily vivid and detailed story, full of earthily realistic dialogue, told with an amazing storyteller’s craft.”—The Roundup

“A serious anthropological study that reads like a combination of Tobacco Road with two parts of Studs Lonigan.”—New Republic

“An entertaining and absorbing story about Indian life.”—True West

"For Western fiction writers, there is much to glean here; for anthropologists . . . there is an opportunity here to read and reflect on the discipline and its relationship with indigenous people."—Tom Carpenter, Roundup Magazine

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