by Erika Bsumek
Great books on Navajo arts, commerce, and the US west.
Nancy Bloomberg, Navajo Textiles: The William Randolph Hearst Collection (1997). Hearst became enthralled with Navajo rugs after visiting a Fred Harvey exhibit of Navajo goods. Bloomberg illuminates both the history of Navajo weaving and Hearst’s collecting behavior.
Jennifer Denetdale, Reclaiming Dine’ History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita (2007). Denetdale, Manuelito’s great-great-great-granddaughter, rewrites Navajo history from the inside out. A groundbreaking work essential for anyone interested in the history of the Navajo.
Stephen Fried, Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West (2011) Fried introduces readers to the innovative and entrepreneurial Fred Harvey as he builds a chain of hotels, integrates Native American culture into it, and spawns a vibrant tourist and travel industry in the American West.
Nancy Parezo, Navajo Sandpainting: From Religious Act to Commercial Art (1991) Parezo details the origins and evolution of Navajo sandpainting.
Sallie Wagner, Wide Ruins: Memories from a Navajo Trading Post (1997) Wagner traded on the Navajo reservation for most of her adult life. She offers an insider’s perspective of the trading post system.
Hampton Sides, Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West (2007). “Blood and Thunders” were a popular genre of dime novels, heavy on adventure, light on facts. In Hampton Side’s chronicle of Kit Carson’s life, the author keeps the action and adventure alive but hews to the facts. A fun and informative read.