This book works to recover the lived experiences of Native American boarding school students through creative works, student interviews, and scholarly collaboration. It shows the complex agency and ability of Indigenous youth to maintain their Diné culture within the colonial spaces that were designed to alienate them from their communities and customs. Returning Home provides a view into the students’ experiences and their connections to Diné community and land. Despite the initial Intermountain Indian School agenda to send Diné students away and permanently relocate them elsewhere, Diné student artists and writers returned home through their creative works by evoking senses of Diné Bikéyah and the kinship that defined home for them.
Returning Home uses archival materials housed at Utah State University, as well as material donated by surviving Intermountain Indian School students and teachers throughout Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Artwork, poems, and other creative materials show a longing for cultural connection and demonstrate cultural resilience. This work was shared with surviving Intermountain Indian School students and their communities in and around the Navajo Nation in the form of a traveling museum exhibit, and now it is available in this thoughtfully crafted volume. By bringing together the archived student arts and writings with the voices of living communities, Returning Home traces, recontextualizes, reconnects, and returns the embodiment and perpetuation of Intermountain Indian School students’ everyday acts of resurgence.
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