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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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1. Native Voices   

1. Native Voices

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Activities: Author Activities

Luci Tapahonso - Selected Archive Items

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[5957] Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Navajo Shiprock Fair Exhibit (c. 1934),
courtesy of Pacific Alaska Region, National Archives and Records Administration.
This fair, held every year in Shiprock, New Mexico, is the oldest fair in the Navajo Nation. Luci Tapahonso was born in Shiprock; her recent book, Songs of Shiprock Fair, describes one child's experiences at the fair.

[5959] Terry Eiler, Sheepherding on the Grounds of the Utah International Mine on the Navajo Reservation (1972),
courtesy of Still Pictures Branch, National Archives and Records Administration.
Luci Tapahonso, the middle child in a family of eleven, grew up in this area. Tapahonso is a Navajo who composes much of her poetry in her native language, Dine.

[6157] Nancy Crampton, Luci Tapahonso (1980-2002),
courtesy of Nancy Crampton.
Altering, adapting, and drawing from the Dine (Navajo) oral tradition, poet Luci Tapahonso carves out a space in American literature for a diverse yet distinctly native voice.

[6158] Nancy Crampton, Ortiz, Silko, Tapahonso Group Photo (n.d.),
courtesy of Nancy Crampton.
All three of these prominent Native American writers come from New Mexico. Each shares the traditional Native American emphasis on storytelling, and each emphasizes the importance of developing a respectful relationship with the land.

[6533] Kenji Kawano, Navajo Grandson, Grandma, Horse (2001),
courtesy of Kenji Kawano.
A young Navajo man stands with his arm around his grandmother. Herself a Navajo, Luci Tapahonso draws inspiration for her work from the lives of those she knows best and from the landscape of the Southwest.

[6590] Joel Grimes, Traditional Navajo Dancing during Fourth of July Fair (1992),
courtesy of Joel Grimes.
The Navajo have a long tradition of dancing. Navajo Luci Tapahonso attempts to tell the history of her people's culture in her writings and to contextualize it in terms of the present.

[6850] Edward S. Curtis, Head-and-Shoulders Portrait of Navajo Woman, Facing Front (1904),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-103498].
This woman's clothing is an example of bicultural production: while influenced by European dress, it also incorporates a Navajo blanket influenced by the designs of baskets and pottery. Sheep, who provide the wool for blankets as well as a source of food, are a crucial part of Navajo culture.

[8007] Luci Tapahonso, Reading: "They are Silent and Quick" (2002),
courtesy of Annenberg/CBP and American Passages.
This poem shows (Dine) Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso moving between the English and Navajo languages. In the poem, Tapahonso discusses the importance of the oral tradition and storytelling.

[8963] Edward S. Curtis, Navajo Hogan (1905),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-105863].
The hogan, a traditional Navajo dwelling, is constructed out of earth and wooden poles according to instructions from Talking God.

[9074] Luci Tapahonso, Reading: "A Breeze Swept Through" (2002),
courtesy of Annenberg/CBP and American Passages.
This poem shows (Dine) Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso moving between the English and Navajo languages. In the poem, Tapahonso retells the creation story of Dawn Woman.

[9080] Luci Tapahonso, Interview: "The Number Four and Its Significance" (2002),
courtesy of Annenberg/CBP and American Passages.
A recording from an interview with Tapahonso in which she discusses the number 4 and its significance in her poetry and for the Navajo; other interview excerpts can be found in archive [9076] through [9083].

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