Her Land, Her Love

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Media Reviews, Online media reviews, Web Exclusive

her-land-her-loveBy Evangeline Parsons Yazzie
Salina Bookshelf (2014)
418 pages

Review by E.A. Roastingear

The current scorched-earth policy waged upon the people of the Navajo Nation must cease. For the people of Black Mesa and Big Mountain, Navajo communities of elderly traditionalists and their families, the Long Walk never ended. As hundreds of sheep are being impounded on Hopi partition lands of Northern Arizona, the Navajo people are calling for help. Navajo elders—women and men—along with their families and their livestock are suffering.

They are under attack by the corporate state which will stop at nothing to maximize their fossil fuel profits. How far will Yazzie’s story take us? Will it satisfy the Navajo grandmother grieving for her lost herds? Will it soothe the grandchildren who have lost all ties to the land due to forced relocation? Will the story end in hope like a cornfield, or devastation like another coal mine?

The holocaust that happened to the family portrayed in Her Land, Her Love became the model for Nazi concentration camps in Europe. Hitler did to the Jews what the United States government did to the Navajos and the Indigenous peoples of this continent. Following orders of a flawed law to impound the livestock of the elders on Big Mountain and Black Mesa does not make it right.

An author who takes the time to speak to 5,000 elders about the Long Walk of the Navajos is telling the truth. Every story written, every story told from now until the end of time must tell the truth about Native Americans, American Indians, the Principal People, the Naabeeho or, frankly, it’s just a waste of time. Her Land, Her Love needs to be in all tribal college and university library collections. The author’s attention to historical detail is brilliant.

This historical romance drives home a universal theme: women are sacred. Women give birth to children. They carry the lives of future generations in their wombs and so it is with the land. The land is female. Therefore, all land is sacred. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie interviewed over 5,000 elders about the Long Walk and this first book in her trilogy is a labor of her love for her people and her land. Yazzie may or may not face criticism for her writing style; however, people called to write the truth, no matter the language, will always see home, their sacred mountains, their land, and their beloved animals despite what book critics think.

E.A. Roastingear (United Keetoowah Band Cherokee) is faculty in the Creative Writing and New Media Department at Navajo Technical University.

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