Sep 30, 2016

Faculty Appointment in the Navajo Nation

This is Buffalo Pass, a mountain road in the Navajo Nation.
This time of year, New York City-based film critics are attending press screenings at the New York Film Festival. That is where I would be as well, but this past August, I accepted a faculty appointment in the English Department at Diné College, in Tsaile, Arizona. It was founded as a community college in 1968, the first Native American institution of its kind. The college now offers several B.A. degrees to its approximately 1,600 students, the majority of whom are Navajo. Students also come from neighboring tribes, including the Hopi, and from indigenous communities across the United States, as well as from other countries.

Tsaile consists of a gas station and its store, and Diné College. The town is about 7,100 feet above sea level, and is in the Navajo Nation, the reservation of the largest group of indigenous people in the United States, the Diné ("the people" in the Navajo language). A reservation that my husband and I have visited many times over the last 20 years (we were here on 9/11), the Navajo Nation is known to most Americans as an area that encompasses some of America's most beautiful national parks, including Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelley. For the Diné, it is their homeland, the place of their ancestors, its boundaries the four sacred mountains, Mount Blanca, Mount Hesperus, Mount Taylor and the San Francisco Peaks. The nation spans three states, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, and its official language is that of the famous Navajo Codetalkers.

I will continue my work as a film critic and feature writer, so please do check back here for links to my movie reviews and features. I am at this moment preparing for several filmmaker interviews with directors of documentaries and features screening at NYFF. I will also continue to cover new quest films on my Facebook public page (, which I began with the publication of my recent book, Cinematic Quests for Identity: The Hero's Encounter with the Beast.

This is my backyard in Tsaile, where I see bluebirds every morning.