Into the Canyon Seven Years in Navajo Country
by Lucy Moore
When I borrowed this book from the library, I expected to read more about Lucy’s experiences with the countryside and the people and less about politics. I thought I might even learn some of their traditions, recipes, clothing making, work, etc. The author glossed over those topics, presenting little depth. Additional detail would have made them more interesting.
There were a few interesting stories that kept me reading and hoping for more. She described white sofas turning red from the dust, performing a wedding, getting stuck in the mud, avoiding quicksand, climbing a mountain and acting as a coroner to witness the remains of a person with his face blown off by a gunshot, self-inflicted.
As a retired teacher with some experience teaching Navajo students, I appreciated her stories in the classroom setting. One thing that surprised me was the lack of knowledge the native teachers had about their own history and culture. They were totally committed to preparing the Headstart children for white man’s schools.
She became really involved as a political activist and presented events in great detail, filling 51 pages. It seemed over-done for my interest. That would be OK if the reader was looking for that information and needed the details about the conflicts between the Indians and the US government. For me, it just wasn’t what I expected. Perhaps, that was simply an expression of what was most important to her at that time of her life.
She included several black ad white photos which were nice. A photo of her with her tiny baby in a cradleboard was interesting because it showed her lack of experience – baby’s hands were sticking out. A Navajo baby would have had its arms enclosed in its blankets. Many were more appropriate for a family album, but that’s OK.
I see this as a book that could interest a variety of readers, those interested in Navajo people and politics.