Two Navajo Histories by Iverson

Nov 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 15-2: Reclaiming Native Health, Media Reviews

IVERSON BOOK COVERSDiné: A History of the Navajos
By Peter Iverson
University of New Mexico Press (2002), Albuquerque, NM. 386 pages.
ISBN 0-8263-2714-1 Cloth, $45.00
ISBN 0-8263-2715-X Paper, $21.95

For Our Navajo People: Dine Letters, Speeches & Petitions, 1900-1960
Edited by Peter Iverson, photo editor Monty Roessel
University of New Mexico Press (2002), Albuquerque, NM. 275 pages.
ISBN 0-8263-2717-6 Cloth, $34.95
ISBN 0-8263-2718-4 Paper, $20.95

Reviews by Dr. Tim Begaye

Peter Iverson, a professor of history at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, has produced two new books that add new historical accounts to existing documents written about the Diné (Navajo) people of the Southwest. Diné: a History of the Navajos is a historical documentation of the Diné beginning with the Emergence story to the initial years of the 21st century. The author highlights the social, political, and economic challenges the people face. He uses archival documents, Navajo oral and written history, research, and firsthand observation to provide an in-depth history.

Iverson has edited a second book that supplements the above history. For Our Navajo People: Dine Letters, Speeches & Petitions, 1900-1960 contains actual, documented testimonies of prominent Navajo and non-Navajo leaders who have devoted their lives to advocating better conditions for the Diné. He includes impassioned letters and articles dating from 1900 to about 1960 of noted Diné leaders like Chee Dodge, Annie Wauneka, and Peterson Zah. He carefully places each document into topic areas: land, community, education, rights, government, and identity.

In both books, Iverson introduces the work of noted Navajo educator and photographer, Monty Roessel, who has enhanced the text with colorful photography. Iverson and Roessel include archival photographs taken by early researchers, government workers, and missionaries. Both books contain rich material that will serve the occasional history buff looking for new cultural and anthropological information, the educator searching for a deep and rich “inside” social and cultural perspective, and the new visitor to Navajoland wanting to know more about the people who call themselves Diné.

Dr. Tim Begaye (Diné) is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.

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