Navajo Wildlands

"as long as the rivers shall run"


photographs by Philip Hyde

text by Steven C. Jett, with selections

     from Willa Cather, Oliver La Farge, and others, and from

     the Navajo Creation Myth and Navajo chants

edited by Kenneth Brower

      foreword by David Brower

 

SIERRA CLUB SAN FRANCISCO

Copyright 1967

 

from the foreword . . .


The Navajo Country imprinted me a long time ago. In 1939, without knowing that we were violating something sacred, three friends and I made the first ascent of Shiprock. It took months of planning and four days of climbing, none more enjoyable than the third day. As it ended we bivouacked not far below the summit and looked out over the desert as the shadow of the peak reached east and died, to let campfires twinkle under the stars -- scores of campfires, scattered over the arid vastness we had thought empty. I found myself feeling an empathy I had never felt before. Who was around that fire, the other fires, the farthest one? What had the winds told them that day, the vast sky, the sacred mountains? What tradition, being understood and enjoyed around each fire, had kept these people so well in touch with their land for so long? . . .

I hope you are pleased with what happens when what Willa Cather saw in a sky is coupled with what Philip Hyde saw; when the mountains lit with their own inner glow in the Navajo creation myth are juxtaposed with the terrain the myth was created in . . .

There are now laws in various lands, including the Navajo Reservation, to protect artifacts from careless disturbance, from the idle collector of things. We would like to think that what this book has to say will lead to equal protection for the land, and for the beauty of things alive on the land, that gave grace to the lives of the ancient people to whom the Navajo wildlands were, as they are now, beautiful indeed.

 

David Brower                    
    
Executive Director, Sierra Club     

New York City, September 28, 1967

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THE WILDNESS WITHIN US