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Book Review
Indian Tribes of the Southwest
American Indian Tribes of the Southwest
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


** American Indian Tribes of the Southwest. Continuing Osprey’s series on the Native American peoples, this book outlines the historical origins, way of life, religious beliefs, material culture, and history of the very varied tribes of New Mexico and Arizona. From first contact with 16th-century Spanish explorers to the end of the Apache wars in the 1880s, it covers not only the Apache and Navajo of the mountains and desert, but also the ancient Pueblo villages, and those tribes brushed by the horse culture of the Plains. Both men and women of these peoples are illustrated, in 19th-century photographs, and in sumptuously detailed color plates of tribal costume. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released American Indian Tribes of the Southwest as Number 488 in their Men-at-Arms series. It is a paperback book with 48 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, black and white maps, color illustrations, and detailed captions. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-186-6. As the title states, the book examines and discusses the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest.


The American Southwest
- The physical environment – Southwestern Indians before white contact

The Spanish Invasion
- Exploration and colonization from New Spain

The Tribes

- Havasupai – Walapai – Yavapai – Yuma – Mohave – Maricopa - Cocopa

- Pima - Papago

- Apache: Western – Chiricahua – Mescalero – Jicarilla – Lipan - Kiowa
- Material culture - beliefs
- Apache wars
- Navajo: history – material culture - beliefs

Pueblo Indians
- Early history – the Pueblo Revolt, 1680 – the Taos Pueblo Revolt, 1847
- Material culture – beliefs
- The Rio Grande Pueblo villages: Taos – Picuris – San Juan – Santa Clara – Pojoaque – San Ildefonso – Nambe – Tesuque – Jemez – Cochiti – Santo Domingo – San Felipe – Zia – Santa Ana – Sandia – Isleta – Laguna – Acoma – Tigua – Piro - Pecos
- Zuni - Hopi

Marginal Tribes
- Ute – Southern Paiute – Yaqui – Comanche

Select Bibliography

Plate Commentaries



The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. Michael G. Johnson covers the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest very well. The contents portion where I listed the contents of the book is accurate as to what is discussed. However to the contents list does not prepare you for the wealth of information provided. Johnson goes very deep into all aspects of each of the tribes listed. He covers their origins and locations, religious ceremonies and beliefs, conflicts, reservation locations and populations, significant events in the tribe’s histories, the dates of the incidents and the outcomes. An area that I found to be particularly interesting is where Johnson goes into minute and very specific details in regards to clothing items such as colors, decorations and types of feathers used. Another area that is discussed and detailed is the Native American pottery and materials used such as Mica, and the various coloring that was used for the detailing. To me that is an area that one would not normally expect to be detailed. I know there are pottery collectors and enthusiasts out there that would find that information most valuable and informative. For a volume only containing a total of 48 pages Johnson has fine-tuned and packed as much history of these tribes into those few pages that should leave any reader feeling well knowledge about the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest. With a well written history such as the one Johnson has provided helps to take the Hollywood and myths out of the Native American history and shed truthful and intelligent light on it. Anyone interested in American Indian Tribes of the Southwest or Native American history will find this book very informative and interesting. As I read through the text I did notice spelling or grammatical errors throughout the book. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. However I should note that the errors are few and definitely take nothing away from this well written and detailed volume. And I should also note that the errors are not necessarily those of Johnson’s and could be simple printing mistakes.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.


There are a total of 40 black and white photographs shown throughout the book, 3 of which are of illustrations. There are no color photographs featured in this volume. Several of the photographs are of specific Southwest Native Americans and others as well as showing the clothing, dwellings, costumes, weapons and other such items of the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest in nice detail. The majority of the photographs are nice, clear, centered and focused images and are of a good quality considering the era in which they were taken. Considering that photography was still a fairly new science at the time the photographs were taken I was impressed with all of the photographs. I haven’t seen a majority of the featured photographs before, if not all of them, and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over used photographs that many books tend to contain. The photographs will prove to be valuable to the scale figure modeler as well as anyone interested in the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest.

Some of the photographs that I found interesting were:
- A Navajo silversmith
- Two Chiricahua Apache warriors with bows and arrows
- A Yuma man with face and body paint playing the flute
- A Mescalero Apache man holding a painted shield and a lance
- Apache scouts with a white or mixed-race scout with their Springfield rifles
- A Navajo hogan (house)
- Navajo women operating a loom and preparing wool
- Navajo sand paintings
- The so-called “Cliff Palace” that is part of the Mesa Verde pueblo in Colorado
- Southwest Native American pottery
- A Hopi Snake Dance
- Many excellent photographs showing clothing and weaponry

Some of the keys individuals shown and discussed are:
- Chasi-ta, son of the war chief Bonito
- Naiche, second son of Cochise
- Pacer, a Kiowa Apache
- Chato, a Chiricahua Apache
- Barboncito, a Navajo chief
- Kayati, a Zia Pueblo woman

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself


There are 8 pages of color plates by illustrator Jonathan Smith which covers various tribes of the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest and they are very well done. There are brief captions that accompany the illustrations and detailed larger captions that are located in the Plate Commentaries chapter. The illustrations will prove to be valuable to the scale figure modeler as well as anyone interested in Native American clothing, costumes and body art of the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest.

The color illustrations are of the following:

Plate A
Prehistoric Peoples, c. AD 250-1100
1. Western Anasazi woman, c. 1100
2. Mogollon man, c. 300
3. Hohokam man, c. 250

Plate B
Apache, Taos & Ute, c. 1830-75:
1. Lipan Apache, c. 1830
2. Kiowa Apache, c. 1870
3. Taos war chief, c. 1870
4. Southern Ute, c. 1875

Plate C
Apache, c. 1870-90
1. Western Apache, 1870s
2. Chiricahua Apache, c. 1870
3. Jicarilla Apache, c. 1890
4. Mescalero Apache chief, c. 1880

Plate D
Apache & Navajo, c. 1860-90
1. Apache warrior, c. 1860
2. Navajo warrior, c. 1860
3. Navajo hunter, c. 1890
4. Western Apache woman, c. 1880

Plate E
Apache Ceremonial
1. Western Apache Gaan dancer
2. Western Apache clown
3. Western Apache woman
4. Jicarilla Apache woman

Plate F
Hopi, Navajo & Zuni Ceremonial
1. Snake Dancer, Hopi
2. Hemis Kachina, Hopi
3. Kachina Mana, Hopi
4. Yeibichai Dancer, Navajo
5. Shalako, Zuni

Plate G
Women, 1880-1930
1. Acoma, 1880
2. Navajo, 1900
3. Hopi girl, 1910
4. Mohave, 1900
5. Hopi Butterfly Dancer, 1930

Plate H
Modern Dance Ceremonies
1. Jemez Deer Dancer, 2007
2. Yaqui Deer Dancer,, 1970
3. San Ildefonso Side Dancer, 1990
4. Hopi Hoop Dancer, 2010
5. Pojoaque Buffalo Dancer, 1990

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.


There are 2 black and white maps featured. They are of:
- Indian Peoples Of The American Southwest c. 1650 - 1850
- Main Missions, Presidios, Trails, Post & Engagements, 19th C.

Please refer to the scan that I have provided so that you can judge the quality of the maps for yourself.


There are no informational charts provided in this volume.


The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph or illustration. The captions go into very specific detail as to specific individuals and Native American tribe affiliation, dates and locations, weapon types, types of costumes and what they represented and what they were used for and other such pertinent information. As I read through the captions I did notice spelling and grammatical errors. As I stated before, grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. The captions themselves are basically miniature history lessons as they detailed what is happening, or happened, in the photographs and give specific detail as to the who, what, when, why and where. I was very impressed by Michael G. Johnson’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.


There are 2 notes included in this volume and they are:
- Author’s Dedication
- Artist’s Note


All in all I am impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many nice illustrations, photographs and well detailed captions. Personally I would have liked to have seen more attention paid to the weaponry of the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library. The scale figure modeler as well as anyone interested in Native American clothing and culture of the American Indian Tribes of the Southwest will find this volume a useful companion.


Native American Clothing: An Illustrated History
Theodore Brasser
Firefly Books

Native American Hunting and Fighting Skills
Colin F. Taylor
The Lyons Press

Native American Weapons
Colin F. Taylor
The Lyons Press

The Indians
The Old West
Time/Life Books

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
An Indian History Of The American West

Dee Brown

The Great Chiefs
The Old West
Time-Life Books

Search inside the book at the Osprey Publishing web site:

Osprey Publishing also has American Indian Tribes of the Southwest available as a:
- ePub eBook
- PDF ebook

Look inside the book at the Amazon web site:
http://www.amazon.com/American-Indian-Tribes-Southwest-Men-at-Arms/dp/1780961863/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1368231742&sr=8-1&keywords=American Indian Tribes of the Southwest

Look inside the Kindle Edition at the Amazon web site:
Highs: Well written and detailed text and captions Nice photographs and illustrations
Lows: Spelling and grammar errors
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book that is well researched and details the various indigenous American Indian Tribes of the Southwest in great detail.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN is 978-1-78096-186-6
  Suggested Retail: US $17.95 / UK £9.99
  PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.


I will have to pick up a copy as I spend a fair amount of time in the land of the Pimas and Papagos. An interesting subject.
MAY 17, 2013 - 01:34 AM

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