For the first time, a sweeping history of the Diné that is foregrounded in oral tradition. Authors Klara Kelley and Harris Francis share Diné history from pre-Columbian time to the present, using ethnographic interviews in which Navajo people reveal their oral histories on key events such as Athabaskan migrations, trading and trails, Diné clans, the Long Walk of 1864, and the struggle to keep their culture alive under colonizers who brought the railroad, coal mining, trading posts, and, finally, climate change.
The early chapters, based on ceremonial origin stories, tell about Diné forebears. Next come the histories of Diné clans from late pre-Columbian to early post-Columbian times, and the coming together of the Diné as a sovereign people. Later chapters are based on histories of families, individuals, and communities, and tell how the Diné have struggled to keep their bond with the land under settler encroachment, relocation, loss of land-based self-sufficiency through the trading-post system, energy resource extraction, and climate change.
Archaeological and documentary information supplements the oral histories, providing a comprehensive investigation of Navajo history and offering new insights into their twentieth-century relationships with Hispanic and Anglo settlers.
For Diné readers, the book offers empowering histories and stories of Diné cultural sovereignty. “In short,” the authors say, “it may help you to know how you came to be where—and who—you are.”