Published July 12, 2016
SALT LAKE CITY – Using words and narrative for healing has been a native tradition for centuries, yet these narratives, whether historical or present-day, are often missing from public discussion and mainstream media. Navajo/Yankton Dakota journalist Jacqueline Keeler is working to bring more native voices to the forefront with the creation of a new anthology of essays, all by native writers, called Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears. The anthology will be funded by a Kickstarter campaign running through July 27. It is Keeler’s hope that the stories in Edge of Morning will help bring healing to the land and to all Americans, allowing native voices to reach new audiences while advocating for a one-of-a-kind wilderness area.
The book includes work by fifteen native writers who champion monument designation and protection for the Bears Ears area, which is at risk from threats by industry, mining, looting, and vandalism. These threats, say Keeler, may eventually “erase the story of the land” so closely linked to the stories and histories of native people. She believes that the stories in Edge of Morning will help Americans understand the deep beauty of the Bears Ears as well as the threats to its ecosystem and cultural value. The Bears Ears wilderness contains thousands of cultural sites and is considered sacred to many tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni.
The Edge of Morning anthology is scheduled to be published early next year by nonprofit publisher Torrey House Press, in collaboration with representatives of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition as well as conservation groups, including the Grand Canyon Trust, Diné Bikéyah, and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Contributing writers include Ph. D.s and young activists on the ground, as well as an older generation of native people.
Although President Barack Obama may have proclaimed the Bears Ears a national monument at the time of publication, monument designation is only the first step. This will be the first time the Antiquities Act will be used to preserve both sensitive landscapes and traditional uses for native people; the book will help educate the public and elected officials about the culture and traditions to be maintained on the Bears Ears, and will be available to other native groups seeking land protection.
Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears is an anthology of native writers bearing testimony to the sacred and essential nature of the fragile Bears Ears landscape and exploring the relationship of the area to the many native people who derive tradition, sustenance, and origin stories from the Bears Ears. The book is being developed in support of tribal efforts to protect Bears Ears and educate the public about its natural and cultural significance. Portland journalist Jacqueline Keeler (Navajo/Yankton Dakota) is soliciting essays and poetry from other native writers, and copies of the book will be made available to the Bears Ears Coalition, The Grand Canyon Trust, Diné Bikéyah, and other conservation groups to help them advocate for the wonders that could so easily be lost.
Jacqueline Keeler is a Navajo/Dakota writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. She is co-founder of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, which seeks to end the use of racial groups as mascots, as well as other stereotypical representations in popular culture. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Indian Country Today, Earth Island Journal, Salon.com, and elsewhere.