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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
April 18, 2005
Volume 40, Number 9

Anthropology professor honored for Apache book


By Lila Chahroudi

Keith Basso, UNM professor of anthropology, will receive the 2004 Evans Biography and Handcart Award, April 22 at Utah State University. Basso collaborated with Eva Tulene Watt, a White Mountain Apache woman, to create a collection of historical Apache stories in the book “Don’t Let the Sun Step Over You: A White Mountain Apache Family Life, 1860-1975.”

Basso began work with the White Mountain Apaches in the 1960s. Apache custom frowns on single men having friendships with married women, so Basso spent several years getting to know Watt before forming a friendship. He said about six years ago “she asked me if I’d be interested in hearing some family stories. To my utter astonishment, on an increasingly regular basis, she kept telling stories for five years.”

Both Basso and Watt are fluent in English and Apache. They decided to share the stories in English because the Apache language is dying. Watt wants future generations of Apache to understand her account of their history. Today, many of the books about Apaches are by outsiders and Basso feels this hinders expression of the true culture.

Basso graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1962 before receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University.
Basso and Watt, who is 86, will to travel to Utah to accept a cash prize of $10,000. Basso says some of the prize money may go toward helping Watt with her mobility.

“I think she’d be happy zipping around on a motorized wheelchair,” he said.