Diné Oral Histories of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute
Bitter Water presents the narratives of four Diné women who have resisted removal but who have watched as their communities and lifeways have changed dramatically. The book, based on 25 hours of filmed personal testimony, features the women’s candid discussions of their efforts to carry on a traditional way of life in a contemporary world that includes relocation and partitioned lands; encroaching Western values and culture; and devastating mineral extraction and development in the Black Mesa region of Arizona. Though their accounts are framed by insightful writings by both Benally and Diné historian Jennifer Nez Denetdale, Benally lets the stories of the four women elders speak for themselves.
Scholars, media, and other outsiders have all told their versions of this story, but this is the first book that centers on the stories of women who have lived it—in their own words in Navajo as well as the English translation. The result is a living history of a contested cultural landscape and the unique worldview of women determined to maintain their traditions and lifeways, which are so intimately connected to the land. This book is more than a collection of stories, poetry, and prose. It is a chronicle of resistance as spoken from the hearts of those who have lived it.
“This book is important because it presents a Navajo ethos and reality that few non-Navjo people know about. It is this kind of dimensional work that will help scholars and other readers gain a deeper insight into Navajo life.”—Donald L. Fixico, author of The Invasion of Indian Country in the Twentieth Century: American Capitalism and Tribal Natural Resources
“There is an urgent need for a resource like this that provides first-hand accounts of the cultural impact of removal and resistance.”—Jeffrey P. Shepherd, author of We Are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People
“This book gives these very prominent women a chance to tell their story, and through these women’s tales, it gives the Navajo people a voice as well.”—Navajo-Hopi Observer