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Journey Of Navajo Oshley

An Autobiography and Life History

edited by Robert S. McPherson

Publication Year: 2000

Ak'é Nýdzin, or Navajo Oshley, was born sometime between 1879 and 1893. His oral memoir is set on the northern frontier of Navajo land, principally the San Juan River basin in southeastern Utah, and tells the story of his early life near Dennehetso and his travels, before there were roads or many towns, from Monument Valley north along Comb Ridge to Blue Mountain. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Anglos and Navajos expanded their use and settlement of lands north of the San Juan. Grazing lands and the Anglo wage economy drew many Navajos across the river. Oshley, a sheepherder, was among the first to settle there. He cared for the herds of his extended family, while also taking supplemental jobs with the growing livestock industry in the area. His narrative is woven with vivid and detailed portraits of Navajo culture: clan relationships, marriages and children, domestic life, the importance of livestock, complex relations with the natural world, ceremonies, trading, and hand trembling.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. v


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pp. vi-viii

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pp. ix-x

Writing acknowledgments for the beginning of a book at the end of the process is enjoyable for three reasons. First, it is an opportunity to go back to the inception of the work and retrace the various steps that led to its completion. In this case, approximately ten years elapsed from start to finish. Perhaps that is entirely too long, but I hope...

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pp. xi-xiii

The force of this book lies in its insider’s portrayal of everyday Navajo life in one of the West’s most culturally dynamic areas: the so-called “Four Corners,” where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. While that distinctive spot—the only place in the United States where four states intersect—is clearly visible on today’s maps, the fascinating...


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Genesis of the Project

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pp. 3-26

Not too long ago in the center of Blanding, Utah, there stood the“half-a-house.” Located just east of the post office, the wooden frame structure, covered with a veneer of gray stucco cement, sat as the only Navajo home in the midst of a white community. A woodpile next to the east-facing door, a few windows that peered out on manicured lawns to the north...

The Autobiography

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The Life of Navajo Oshley

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pp. 29-162

I was born at Dennehotso,1 near a red, round rock.2 The winter was over, and it was the beginning of summer. My father was of the Bit'ahnii [the Within His Cover People] clan, but I never knew him and do not know his name because he passed away when I was very small.3 As time went on, my maternal grandmother...

Later Life

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The Later Livestock Years

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pp. 165-178

Click. The tape recorder fell silent, ending the last part of the interview. Chronologically, Oshley’s life history so far had covered up to the early-to-mid-1940s (an estimate based on internal evidence). He spent the next fifteen to twenty years involved in the livestock industry and another twenty-five years in retirement, yet there is only a faint written...

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Daily Life in Town

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pp. 179-202

When Navajo Oshley retired from the livestock industry and took up residence on the outskirts of Blanding, he began a new lifestyle.The Westwater community remained a haven for poorer Navajos, who depended on work in a town that was slow to accept them. The Utes, on the other hand, who had enjoyed some of the better campsites near wood and water in the same area...

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Religion and Death

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pp. 203-215

The core of any person’s existence lies in the values that are carried through life. Good or bad, the sum total of an individual’s identity is dependent upon the way those values come into play during times of stress and ease. This was particularly true during the last years of Navajo Oshley’s life. His religious values, formed by his experiences as a young...


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pp. 217-226

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213003
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874212914

Publication Year: 2000