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Mission San Xavier del Bac

by Helga Teiwes

Text by Bernard L. Fontana

A photographic essay on the Desert People and their church

About the Photographer

HELGA TEIWES is widely recognized as one of the outstanding camera interpreters of the Southwest and its peoples. Lured by the fascination of the Southwest, she became field photographer for the archaeological excavations at Snaketown, Arizona, in 1964-65; was officially named museum photographer for the Arizona State Museum at The University of Arizona in 1966. In this assignment role, in 1968 she was permitted to photograph the extensive cleaning and restoration being carried on at San Xavier del Bac. Many of the intimate revelations are expressed in this book through scenes of activities carried on at the Mission by its Papago parishioners.

A native of Duesseldorf, Germany, she spent three years as a photographer's apprentice in the custom of the country, culminated four years later with a master's degree in photography. She then came to the United States, spending four years in New York City as a commercial photographer before transplanting to the Southwest. In addition to the acclaim afforded for striking color and black and white photographs in her Arizona State Museum assignments at The University of Arizona, she also has won plaudits for her nationally distributed films on Snaketown and on San Xavier del Bac.

About the Author

BERNARD L. FONTANA, an anthropologist, is Field Historian for the University of Arizona Library. Since 1956 he and his family have lived next to the San Xavier Indian Reservation within a mile of Mission San Xavier, and since 1958 he has been involved in historical and archaeological work at the church. His booklet, Biography of a Desert Church (Tucson, Tucson Corral of the Westerners, 1961), is the standard history of the mission. Fontana is also editor of the Southwestern Mission Research Center Newsletter. Among his other written works is Friar Bringas Reports to the King (University of Arizona Press, 1977).

Copyright © 1973. The Arizona Board of Regents

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