In this groundbreaking book, the first Navajo to earn a doctorate in history seeks to rewrite Navajo history. Reared on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona, Jennifer Nez
Denetdale is the great-great-great-granddaughter of a well-known Navajo chief, Manuelito (1816-1894), and his nearly unknown wife, Juanita (1845-1910). Stimulated in part by seeing
photographs of these ancestors, she began to explore her family history as a way of examining broader issues in Navajo historiography. Here she presents a thought-provoking examination
of the construction of the history of the Navajo people (Dine, in the Navajo language) that underlines the dichotomy between Navajo and non-Navajo perspectives on the Dine past.
Reclaiming Dine History has two primary objectives. First, Denetdale interrogates histories that privilege Manuelito and marginalize Juanita in order to demonstrate some of the
ways that writing about the Dine has been biased by non-Navajo views of assimilation and gender. Second, she reveals how Navajo narratives, including oral histories and stories kept by
matrilineal clans, serve as vehicles to convey Navajo beliefs and values. By scrutinizing stories about Juanita, she both underscores the centrality of women's roles in Navajo society
and illustrates how oral tradition has been used to organize social units, connect Navajos to the land, and interpret the past. She argues that these same stories, read with an
awareness of Navajo creation narratives, reveal previously unrecognized Navajo perspectives on the past. And she contends that a similarly culture-sensitive re-viewing of the Dine can
lead to the production of a Navajo-centered history.
|"An important contribution to the history of the largest tribe in the United States."|
— New Mexico Magazine
"Denetdale's book meets the rigorous standards of a fine history that reveals to the reader much about Navajo history that has largely been missed. A fascinating page-turner that should be on the must-read list of anyone interested in the history of the American Southwest."
— Journal of Arizona History
Jennifer Nez Denetdale is Dine of the Navajo Nation. Learn More