In her preface Margaret Mead states: “This is a priceless account, one that will stand when the last Indian who knew the old ways is gone and our children’s children wonder how the ethnologists of the twentieth century ever found out so much” (viii). My own feeling is that, should they read this book, our children’s children might well wonder how ethnologists learned as much as they did. For by recreating the field situation, with all its weaknesses, Sister M. Inez Bilger has left herself open to serious criticism on both methodological and analytical grounds. It is a tribute to her courage that she has seen fit to do so, for we social scientists generally do not allow our readers behind the scenes. One suspects that this is due, in part, to our fear of being found out.

Huenun Ñamku is the running record of a few days spent with one key informant. The open-ended technique was followed, the informant being permitted his own interests and pace. The author was assisted by a middle-aged, German-Chilean translator, as well as by a niece-secretary. From all indications, she spoke in English (or was it German?) which the translator then converted to Spanish. Mapuche seems to have been resorted to for only isolated terminology. As a result, crude equivalences emerge, as the ones which pair the Mapuche chau with the Christian god, and Mapuche stellar concepts with those of Western astronomy.

Huenun was obviously a “white man’s Indian.” He had worked an entire year with a German priest in the compilation of a Mapuche dictionary. The field worker’s temptation, of course, is to hire an experienced informant. But when the same individual filters out cultural information to two or more investigators, it is time that we questioned the validity of our discipline’s data.

Overall, the book points up how much we ethnologists need to learn languages and to approach the type of ideal methodological model which Harris has set up in his Nature of Cultural Things. Beyond this the book has very few and only minor errors and confusions. The argument that maize was introduced to Mapucheland after the Conquest rests on faulty logic. Two Spanish terms are spelled incorrectly, and some of the photographs are unrelated to the text. In the end, however, the record gives us much more than a case study of the problems to be encountered in short-term field work. As a basic source on changing Mapuche culture, it should be read by anyone interested in modern Chile.