Meyers, Harold Burton 1924–
Meyers, Harold Burton 1924–
Born August 2, 1924, in AZ; married; wife's name Jean; children: four sons. Education: University of Colorado.
Writer. Fort Lewis College, Hesperus, CO, English teacher, 1949-1950; University of Kansas-Lawrence, journalism teacher; Grand Junction Sentinel, executive editor; Time magazine, correspondent; Fortune magazine, New York, NY, senior editor.
National Novella Award, Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and Council Oak Books, for Geronimo's Ponies; Best Book 2007, New Mexico Book Awards, for The Death at Awahi.
Geronimo's Ponies, Council Oak Books (Tulsa, OK), 1989.
Reservations, University Press of Colorado (Niwot, CO), 1999.
The Death at Awahi, Texas Tech University Press (Lubbock, TX), 2007.
In his three novels set on American Indian reservations in the early decades of the twentieth century, retired journalist Harold Burton Meyers draws on his childhood experience as the son of Indian Service teachers stationed on reservations in the southwest. Geronimo's Ponies is a coming-of-age story. David, the motherless son of an administrator on a Navajo reservation during the Great Depression, is drawn to his visiting Uncle Eph and decides to travel with him back to Texas. But David is disillusioned to see that Eph, who has obtained Indian ponies to sell along the way, cheats potential customers and lies about his family. David's journey provides him with the opportunity to learn about his mother's family and himself. The novel won the first National Novella Award given by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and Council Oak Books.
Reservations, also set on a Navajo reservation in the 1930s, focuses on activist teachers Will and Mary Parker, who oppose government assimilation policies for the Indians. They eventually win the respect of some of the Navajos, but remain outsiders, and their son Davey grows up during the Depression in social isolation. Vanessa Bush, writing in Booklist, noted the novel's "interesting view of reservation life from a white perspective."
Meyers deals with similar themes in The Death at Awahi. Quill Thompson has just arrived to take over as principal of the government school on the fictional Awahi pueblo in New Mexico in the 1920s; his wife has accompanied him reluctantly. Gradually they learn how to connect with the pueblo residents and to respect their customs. When, late in the book, an unpleasant missionary on the reservation is tortured and killed, the pueblo elders and the Thompsons must decide whether to destroy the evidence or alert the authorities. Durango Herald contributor Patricia Miller noted that the novel is filled with authentic period detail, and could serve as a "valuable resource for history teachers trying to show middle or high school students a slice of history they may not have encountered." Christine Wald-Hopkins, writing in the Tucson Weekly, described the book as a "graceful, culturally interesting medium for questioning the imposition of the United States culture on the native … and the subtle influence of the ‘conquered’ culture on its conquerors."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of Reservations, p. 1670.
Durango Herald (Durango, CO), July 31, 2007, Patricia Miller, review of The Death at Awahi, p. 63.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006, review of The Death at Awahi, p. 1238.
New York Times Book Review, October 22, 1989, Burt Hockberg, review of Geronimo's Ponies, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 1999, review of Reservations, p. 63.
Tucson Weekly (Tucson, AZ), June 28, 2007, Christine Wald-Hopkins, "Native Tensions." p. 63.