Caretakers Of The Earth:
Navajo Resistance And Relocation
From 1987 through 1997, I spent extensive periods of time photographing and collecting testimony from a group of Navajo Indians in northern Arizona who were being forced from ancestral lands by a Public Law (93-531) enacted by the United States Congress in 1974. The redistricting of a jointly used reservation area resulted in relocation on the Hopi and Navajo reservations. One hundred Hopi Indians were affected by the law but for the Navajo the impact was far more dramatic. More then 11,000 Navajo Indians were ordered to leave their homeland, resulting in drastic disruptions in their ability to practice traditional beliefs and maintain ancient ways of life.
This modern day chapter of American Indian politics, the result of arbitrary decisions made in Washington a century ago, pitted one tribe against another. Wrought with corruption and cross-cultural misinterpretations, the relocation issue created heartache and displacement for the hundreds of traditional Navajo families who were uprooted.
My intention was to bear witness, to tell the story of the Navajos. My goal was to capture the changing world of this earth-based people who because of circumstances far beyond their control, were fighting to retain their traditional beliefs.
By witnessing these people during a crucial moment in their history, the documentation raises questions of universal concern, especially the plight of a non-dominant culture as it dealt with the intrusion of the late 20th century.