Oak Flat : A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West
by Redniss, Lauren






Three generations of an Apache family of activists race against time in a legal and cultural battle to protect sacred land from corrupt government officials and a multinational mining corporation. By the National Book Award finalist author of Radioactive. Illustrations.





Lauren Redniss is the author of several works of visual nonfiction and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. Her book Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future won the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Her previous book, Radioactive, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been a Guggenheim fellow, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Center for the Future of Arizona, and artist in residence at the American Museum of Natural History. She teaches at the Parsons School of Design.





*Starred Review* A vast deposit of copper was discovered beneath federal land in Arizona, in 1995. The ore was worth billions of dollars, but for the residents of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, the land, especially the mesa known as Oak Flat, was priceless and sacred. A powerful mining company lobbied in Washington, DC, to change the law so that they could possess the land and extract the copper. Some people in the nearby struggling town of Superior supported them, but environmentalists protested, and many Native Americans objected, including Naelyn Pike, a courageous young Apache activist. In her fourth work of visual nonfiction, Redniss, a recipient of Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, forges an enthralling convergence of oral history and narrative to tell with precision and empathy the dramatic story of the still unresolved battle over Oak Flat. She reaches back to the region's history of conquest and economic booms and busts; illuminates Apache culture, highlighting the arduous, traditional coming-of-age ceremony for young women that Naelyn performs on Oak Flat; and elucidates the damage copper mining does to the land and human health. By letting facts and perceptions reverberate in sync with her similarly distilled, lustrously colorful drawings, Redniss creates a stunningly holistic and deeply moving tale of how we value and live on the earth for better and for worse. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.





This artistically and thematically profound account of a controversial mining initiative on land that the Apaches of Arizona consider sacred suggests a culture clash of irreconcilable differences. As she has demonstrated in previous books, MacArthur fellow Redniss (Illustration/Parsons School of Design; Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present and Future, 2015, etc.) has a scope that extends well beyond the conventional limits of the graphic novel. Here, she frames her provocative narrative with artistry that evokes the awe and wonder of Native origin stories and the timelessness of eternity. Against this majestic artistic backdrop, Redniss chronicles the machinations of a mining company boasting massive profits as they battle the Natives of the region, who "consider themselves to be at war with the United States." As one activist notes, "we were kicked out of these holy places. The Apache religion survived...with the hope of returning one day to the ancestral homelands. There was always that prophecy: that the final fight between the Apache and America would be for our religion." On one side are jobs and millions of dollars, though within the context that mining operations have an expiration date, in this case likely four decades, and that the Arizona landscape is littered with ghost towns, examples of what happens after the boom goes bust. On the other side are ancient spiritual values and traditions that long predate the intrusion of white settlers and their mistreatment of those who had preceded them. Amid the gorgeous illustrations, Redniss provides plenty of historical context about how the American government has violated its own agreements with those tribes—and how it continues to do so. Yet the author refuses to oversimplify, giving voice to those who feel that standing in the way of progress simply perpetuates so many of the problems endemic to communities who have suffered such abuse. As a work of advocacy, the book is compelling and convincing; as a work of art, it is masterful. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





This artistically and thematically profound account of a controversial mining initiative on land that the Apaches of Arizona consider sacred suggests a culture clash of irreconcilable differences. As she has demonstrated in previous books, MacArthur fellow Redniss (Illustration/Parsons School of Design; Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present and Future, 2015, etc.) has a scope that extends well beyond the conventional limits of the graphic novel. Here, she frames her provocative narrative with artistry that evokes the awe and wonder of Native origin stories and the timelessness of eternity. Against this majestic artistic backdrop, Redniss chronicles the machinations of a mining company boasting massive profits as they battle the Natives of the region, who "consider themselves to be at war with the United States." As one activist notes, "we were kicked out of these holy places. The Apache religion survived...with the hope of returning one day to the ancestral homelands. There was always that prophecy: that the final fight between the Apache and America would be for our religion." On one side are jobs and millions of dollars, though within the context that mining operations have an expiration date, in this case likely four decades, and that the Arizona landscape is littered with ghost towns, examples of what happens after the boom goes bust. On the other side are ancient spiritual values and traditions that long predate the intrusion of white settlers and their mistreatment of those who had preceded them. Amid the gorgeous illustrations, Redniss provides plenty of historical context about how the American government has violated its own agreements with those tribes—and how it continues to do so. Yet the author refuses to oversimplify, giving voice to those who feel that standing in the way of progress simply perpetuates so many of the problems endemic to communities who have suffered such abuse. As a work of advocacy, the book is compelling and convincing; as a work of art, it is masterful. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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