Chalk up one for Thomas Mails. In the introduction to the first of his two volumes in the boxed set about ''the children of the earth mother,'' he comments , ''. . . the Pueblos can rest easy in the knowledge that only they possess the full truth (about their religious beliefs) and can make it effective when ceremonies are performed. The rest of us 'see in a mirror dimly,' never face to face. At most we know only in part. And that is quite enough.''
Few investigators of native American life have been content to leave it at that. Maybe it takes an artist to record the Pueblo Way appreciatively, without interfering, but even Mr. Mails admits to great curiosity.
No wonder. Only the several Indian tribes dwelling in the pueblos of America's Southwest have been able to continue their peaceful way of life almost unaltered in its essence from ancient times till now. How did they manage to do it?
Vol. I discusses what is known about the Anasazi ancestors from anthropological and archaeological investigation, and Vol. II continues the story into the present day. In both, the author notes the inner strength that came from a tried-and-true method of living harmoniously with this evolving world, according to instructions by ''higher powers.'' Every aspect of daily life is included. They are recorded here as well as possible, given Pueblo restrictions against informing outsiders.
The many illustrations contribute to the general tone of sympathetic respect. The drawings are clear and simple, and the color plates of Mr. Mails's paintings add even more vivid information.
These are books one can pick up at any time and find something interesting, wherever they happen to fall open. For the steady reader, there is a logical development throughout that will sustain his interest. Both volumes contain a glossary, bibliography, and index.