- Jennifer Z. Major
Why does a white girl dare?
Many of my friends want to know why I write about Navajo/Diné history.
Ya know, the first answer that I give is "because it's interesting".
If people press me, I go deeper.
"Because it's a fascinating story of history."
If they want more? Oh, they'll get more.
"Because it is an astronomically awful period of human history and humans can be beasts."
Woe to the idiot-my blog, my words-who assumes I meant the Navajo.
Let's get something straight, right off the bat. I am extremely white. Basically, I'm a walking glob of phosphorous. But back in the early 1800's, a Cree lady became the wife of an immigrant from the Orkney Islands, and they began the maternal side of my family tree. Do I say that to add "street cred" to my work so I can wave it around and open doors?
Don't be silly. That action would be called "cultural appropriation" and the thought of waving the Indigenous flag for my own gain is disgusting.
I heard of a man who bragged that he was "part Hop-eye and part Sigh-Ox".
Hopi and Sioux.
I say that to let you all know that within my DNA, there is the link to a truly ancient past that has nothing to do with red hair and blue eyes. Does that motivate me? Sure.
Is that the catalyst? Nope.
But the Orkney Islands were once home to Vikings, so don't mess with me.
Back to the why.
Micah 6:8 says "He has told you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you; to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
Now, I've always been rather enamoured with fairness and justice.
I've always wanted to write, but I was scared.
I am an avid reader and can polish off an inch thick book in a day.
But when I saw an article on The Long Walk of the Navajo?
Something kicked within and I began the very long and arduous mental, emotional. and intellectual journey toward writng a book.
(I warn you now, you MUST BE truly and madly committed to writing the best book you can. Starting is easy. Finishing is not. )
I became obsessed with learning as much of the history as I could. I found help with learning how to write a story. I rewrote things many different times. I was even blessed with visiting New Mexico and Arizona, three times.
But until I stood on the grounds of Bosque Redondo, and felt the blast furnaces of July, and then a year later, the frigid winds of November, did I feel the story come alive.
But what element turned the story from an idea into a reality?
Friendship. And from that, the drive to do justice to the thousands of Navajo people who were treated like indesirable vermin to all the Anglos who felt they had divine approval to take whatever was in their path.
People who lived, ate, and breathed their mission to force Christianity down the throats of "heathens" and make them see that all they had to do was admit they were foul, godless souls and submit to God.
Where was the love of God in all this? Where was living out one's faith and bringing people to a living faith based on the sacrifice and love of God?
Do you want a different belief brought down upon you in a 'convert or die' mentality?
I didn't think so.
Every time I feel stuck, I thank God for Theodore Charles, USMC, retired. Oh, and he's quite the teacher. With a Master's degree.
Imagining men on horseback hunting down my friend? His family? His grandchildren?
But because I cannot physically save those who were herded like cattle and marched across New Mexico, I will visit them instead. And I will take my readers on that death march and to that prison camp and hopefully educate a new generation that whatever was done in God's name was not done with His blessing.
Jesus never said "hunt and slaughter them all, destroy them the foul wretched beasts they are, hold their children by the throat and drive a knife through their hearts, and that will bring them unto Me".
So, I write with this in mind.
Walk humbly with your God.
Was evil one sided? Most certainly not.
Am I an activist? No. That is not my mission.
My mission is to tell a story.
In doing so, I hope to deliver the justice denied so many broken people, with the love our God spoke of, and do so with the humility of a King who washed the feet of carpenters and fishermen.