Like a Brother
Grenville Goodwin's Apache Years, 1928-1939
Assembled by Goodwin's son Neil, who never knew his father, these writings are gathered in thematic chapters that extend Neil Goodwin's earlier work, The Apache Diaries, and shed light on Grenville Goodwin's deepening understanding of the Apache people and their culture, and of the wrenching problems which reservation life forced on them. In two of the chapters Neil tells how he retraced his father's search for the Sierra Madre Apache, re-discovering abandoned Apache campsites and conveying even more personally than his father's diaries what was for both father and son the adventure of a lifetime. Other chapters trace Goodwin's interest in children of the Sierra Madre Apaches who were captured in Mexican raids on these camps during the early decades of the twentieth century. The full stories of the lives of three of these children are for the first time pieced together from newly gathered research.
Grenville was quiet, self-effacing and rarely revealed his inner life, but one chapter affords a closer look: a portrait of his marriage to Neil's mother, Jan. Her diary entries, juxtaposed with her vivid poetry and her paintings and drawings, illuminate her relationship with Grenville and throw his elusive personality into deeper relief than his own writings do. Here too are letters from Goodwin's Apache friends that paint a powerful and poignant portrait of their daily lives and of their relationship with him. Goodwin's daily diary excerpts relate his own experiences on the San Carlos Apache reservation from 1928 to 1936: what was happening at the store, how the cattle were doing, who was in jail, and thousands of other details that give readers a sharp sense of what the reservation was like in the 1930s. As these writings also show, Goodwin was powerfully drawn to Apache spirituality and became steeped in their sacred knowledge. His simple description of a day in the life of an Apache family captures the expression of this spirituality in the rhythms of everyday life, whether greeting the rising sun, curing an injury, plowing the earth, or simply being good to one's family.
More than half a century after his death, Grenville Goodwin continues to be regarded as one of the most enigmatic and romantic figures in American anthropology. Like a Brother gives us a fuller understanding of the man and his work as it broadens our knowledge of Apache history and culture.