AmericanrnRenaissance ManrnbyBillCrokernAmerican Character: The Curious Lifernof Charles Fletcher Lummis and thernRediscovery of the Southwestrnby Mark ‘ThompsonrnNew York: Arcade Publishing;rn372 pp., $27.95rnCharles Fletcher Lummis was bornrnnear Bristol, New Hampshire, inrn1859 and received an extraordinar}’ educationrnat the feet of his father, HenryrnLummis, an erudite Methodist minister.rnThis homeschooling was so effectivernthat, by the time young Charlie got tornHarvard, he found that he had alreadyrnread through its then-rigorous classicsrncurriculum. Bored with his studies, hernbecame a “campus prankster,” which ledrnto outrageous behavior that occasionallyrnresulted in suspension. The unchastenedrnrebel finally dropped out in his seniorrnyear, but not before striking up arnfriendship with another strong-willed undergraduate,rnTheodore Roosevelt.rnFollowing a short stint as a reporter forrnthe Chillicothe, Ohio, Leader, Lummisrndecided to make a national name forrnhimself after landing a job at the fledglingrnLos Angeles Times, hi Septemberrn1884, Lummis—newly married to BostonrnM O V I N G ?rnSend change of addressrnand the maihtig label fromrnvour latest issue to:rnCHRONICLESrnSubscription Dept.rnP.O. Box 800rnMount Morris, IL 61054rnUniversity medical student Dorothearn”Dolly” Rhodes —set out alone to walkrnfrom Chillicothe to Los Angeles. Thern”tramp,” as he called it, spawned widelyrnreprinted newspaper dispatches writtenrnen route and, later in life, a book. Thernvagabond slept in railroad section houses,rnhunted antelope on the prairies, andrncrossed the Rockies in frigid weather.rnHis 3,500-mile meandering journey tookrnhim four months. In Los Angeles, Lummisrnsoon became the Times’ overworkedrnstar reporter. Two years later, he sufferedrna breakdown that caused a temporaryrnparalysis of his left arm and changed hisrnlife forever.rnIn 1886, Harrison Gray Otis —thernmercurial publisher of the Times-sentrnLummis to Arizona to cover the lastrnphase of the Indian Wars, Gen. GeorgernCrook’s pursuit of Geronimo in thernSouthwestern borderlands. Lummis’srnexperience traveling with Crook and coveringrnthe Apache War only added to hisrnlove of the wide vistas of the Southwest.rnHe had spent time in the New Mexicornpueblos region while on his famousrntramp and, after his 1887 breakdown inrnLos Angeles, returned to Isleta on the RiornGrande for an extended convalescence.rnHere, Lummis found his life’s work and arnhappier marriage.rnHe became a much-demanded freelancernwriter, contributing articles aboutrnlife in the Southwest to national publications,rnincluding the Atlantic Monthly,rnthe Century, Harpers, and such newspapersrnas the New York Tribune and the LosrnAngeles Times. And he began to write thernbooks that made his reputation: A NewrnMexico David (1891), A Tramp Across thernContinent (1892), and The King of thernBroncos and Other Stories of New Mexicorn(1897), among others. At the same time,rnLummis divorced Dolly—now a successfulrnLos Angeles physician — and marriedrnLve Douglas, a brainy local schoolteacher.rnTheir courtship coincided withrnthe gradual disappearance of his mysteriousrnparalysis.rnLiunmis quickly went from poverty tornprosperit)’, thanks to his demanding workrnethic. A typical 20-hour day consisted ofrnmounting a horse and exploring Isletarnand environs —hunting, fishing, inspectingrnarchaeological sites, chatting withrnresident Indians —then staying up allrnnight to write about it. He took up photographyrnto increase his cachet with editorsrnby submitting photographs (a new innovationrnpracticed by few writers at therntime) to accompany his endless stream ofrnfreelance pieces. He was the first photographerrnto record the secret ceremonies ofrnthe Penitentes, an obscure Catholic sectrnscattered throughout New Mexico andrnsouthern Colorado. Each year on GoodrnFriday, they met to reenact the Crucifixion,rnsometimes so realistically that onernof their number died from the ordeal.rnLummis’s pictures of the ritual —sanctionedrnby the Penitentes after diplomaticrncoaxing—appeared, along with a descriptivernarticle, in Cosmopolitan in 1889.rnBecause of his connection with IsletarnPueblo, Lummis was active in Indian politicalrnaffairs. He vigorously opposed — inrncourtrooms and in print—the practice ofrnseparating children from their parentsrnand sending them to distant Indianrnboarding schools from which they werernforbidden to return for vacations, cuttingrnthem off from family and their native culturernfor years. “Are the thoughtftd of usrnso absolutely secure of the success of ourrncivilization as to force it upon the unwilling?”rnhe wrote. Later, Lummis’s oldrnfriendship with President Theodo.e Rooseveltrnenabled him to influence progressrnin reservation reform; finally, however,rnthe Interior Department’s red tape hinderedrnhim more than Roosevelt’s executiverntenure could help him.rnLummis is probably best known as therneditor of Out West, first titled Land ofrnSunshine. Initially founded as a promotionalrnpublication for the Los AngelesrnChamber of Commerce, Lummis’s tenurernrapidly turned it into a first-raternmonthly magazine of politics and culture,rnboasting such contributors as JohnrnMuir, John Burroughs, Ernest ThompsonrnSeton, Joaquin Miller, and Jack London.rnIn an American journalistic milieurnthat took its cue from the East, Out Westrnwas the first credible “Western” magazine.rnDuring his decade-long editorship,rnLummis and his contributors took arnclear-eyed view of the West that was freernof dime-novel mythology. In his monthlyrncolumn. In the Lion’s Den^Lummisrntackled such national and internationalrnissues as American foreign policy in Cubarnand the Philippines. President Rooseveltrnwas an enthusiastic reader.rnOne of Lummis’s great passions —rnalong with his wives, children, andrnwork —was El Alisal, the small-scalernstone castle he built near Los Angeles.rnHis mostly solitary, part-time labor on thernhouse occupied ten years of his life. Herndied of cancer there in 1928.rnBill Croke writes from Cody, Wyoming.rn28/CHRONICLESrnrnrn