Review: The Way of a Peyote Roadman by Silvester J. Brito

D. C. Cole
1991 Explorations in sights and sounds  
we have that of the minority group (the poor peasants); on the other, we see either the oppressors or those who seek the power to rule; however, neither one of the latter two are concerned with the needs and interests of the underdogs, the common people. It is through the hopes and fears of Demetrio's men that we see, as in most revolutions, the anguish of the revolutionary spirit, one which produces energetic states of joy, anger, and madness. We are also exposed to the ideal goals of the
more » ... l goals of the revolution through the eyes, actions, and conversations of Cervantes and Solis, two educated men who are caught up in the heat of battle. By the end of the novel, Villa suffers a great defeat by political and military forces who were once on his side. Demetrio Macias and his men flee back to their mountain village, only to be shot down like mongrel dogs. Demetrio, the Indian warrior, is the only survivor, killing as many fe derales as he can. This final act may very well be the author's way to symbolically represent the ensuing state of affairs in Mexican society. It appears to be a foreshadowing of the current feelings among several politically-minded groups in today's ever-changing Mexico. They believe that the Mexican revolution never accomplished its true goals: a successful land reform and an established governing force which has the needs of its people as primary. Many within these political minority groups believe that Mexico is due for a revolution. Whether this is true, only time will tell. Perhaps this was the author's prophetic message when he wrote The Underdogs . The novel is cleverly divided into three, well-translated sections, each one signaling a significant change in the lives and times of its main characters, thus symbolic of the changes in the revolutionary process. The Way of a Peyote Roadman is a work which is certain to stir controversy in a number of academic circles. Silvester J. Brito holds a Ph.D. in folklore and anthropology from Indiana University. The book begins with a personal affirmation of the author's belief in the power of sorcery, based on his personal experiences culminating in a peyote ritual curing ceremony. Following that experience, Brito writes of spending a year in intensive field study of peyote religion . His last field data was gathered in July of 1973. The bibliography has 1976 publications as its most recent entries. The author lays out five objectives for his study. This is done through seven short chapters followed by two appendices. The first of Brito's objectives was to establish a phenomenological record of the peyote ceremony. He does this 8 Explorations in Sights and Sounds No. 11 (Summer 1991) quite ably throughout the boo k, drawing on infonnants from Navajo, Comanche, Winnebago, and Creek sacred practitioners, among others. His second objective was to establish a "model peyote ceremony" to be "used as a standard against which other ceremonies can be viewed. " Many will consider this an artificial construction which in some ways is contrary to the unregimented practice of ritual by peyote roadmen. Standardization is perhaps not appropriate in this area. Brito's third objective, to make Native Americans more conscious of the development of this pan-Indian religion, may be well served, since the book is certainly of interest, with its wealth of detail on ritual and ceremony and its relating of tribal folklore from several communities. The author's fourth and fifth objectives deal with infonning non-Indian readers with understandings of peyote religion within American society and culture, and to provide the reader with particular historical, socioeco nomic, and ethno-historical factors affecting the present structure of peyote
doi:10.1525/ess.1991.11.1.8 fatcat:3cweeqajbfcinpficoblq7l76q