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Misled by the Text

September 29, 1985

Lynn V. Andrews, in her review of "Black Wolf" by Betty Keller (Book Review, Sept. 1), made some remarks in reference to the late Ernest Thompson Seton that are not quite correct. Andrews was apparently misled by the text of that book. I do not recall that Seton was born in England despite the many books he authored. Perhaps he was. But he wrote about a youngster living in a suburban town in New York state, if memory serves me correctly.

Seton wrote of a lad who explored the countryside about his home. He discovered a "hidden dell" where the boy (and a friend) set about playing Indians. I first read the story while a student at Colton High School in 1930.

I had lived a few months in the area of Santa Fe, N.M., just before Pearl Harbor. There I had heard of Ernest Thompson Seton (again). And Seton Village. There were tales going around about Seton Village, which was not on the Navajo Reservation as your book reviewer stated. The Navajo Reservation was 100 miles to the west of Seton Village, which was just south of Santa Fe, on the south side of the main highway going east toward Pecos and Las Vegas, N.M.

The natives of Santa Fe speculate upon the odd rituals that were performed at Seton Village. That was about 1955 and Seton had gone to his repose. But his followers, it was said, were not overly cordial to visitors, and they continued the "sunrise" ritual each morning, after emerging through the front door that faced east in the ages-old Indian fashion. Some said the remaining residents still performed this "religious custom" of appearing in their nakedness as Indians had done for all the past centuries. And they lived much as Seton had taught them to follow. (This is not meant to be idle gossip; whether true or not, I don't know personally.) All their customs were in the Indian mode.

Another not too well known fact is that Ernest Thompson Seton had visions of a "national club" for boys. He found no backing in America for his "Campfire Club" so he took it to England. There, a Lord Baden-Powell became interested in Seton's dream and formed the original Boy Scouts of England. Eventually, the movement was begun in America, as Boy Scouts of America. But Seton was never given his proper credit.

HAROLD WILSON SHARP

Los Angeles

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