2022 Southwest Books of the Year
The Navajo tribe, the Diné, are the largest tribe in the United States and live across the American Southwest. But over a century ago, they were nearly wiped out by the Long Walk, a forced removal of most of the Diné people to a military-controlled reservation in New Mexico. The summer of 2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the Navajos' return to their homelands. One Navajo family and their community decided to honor that return. Edison Eskeets and his family organized a ceremonial run from Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, to Santa Fé, New Mexico, in order to deliver a message and to honor the survivors of the Long Walk.
Both exhilarating and punishing, Send a Runner tells the story of a Navajo family using the power of running to honor their ancestors and the power of history to explain why the Long Walk happened. From these forces, they might also seek the vision of how the Diné--their people--will have a future.
Edison Eskeets is a former All-American runner, coach, artist, and teacher who has been running in the Southwest for over fifty years. He served as the head of school and the dean of students for the nationally recognized Native American Preparatory School. He is the first Navajo trader to manage the Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest continuously operating trading post in Navajo country. He lives between Ganado, Arizona, and northern New Mexico.
Jim Kristofic grew up on the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona. He has written for The Navajo Times, Arizona Highways, Native Peoples Magazine, and High Country News. He is the author of Medicine Women: The Story of the First Native American Nursing School and Navajos Wear Nikes: A Reservation Life. He lives in Taos, New Mexico.
"The authors pass the baton back and forth, their relay race in book form crossing the finish line with aplomb. Its language observes the color of the modern world alongside the nuance of complex history. This is not a parachute job, but people who live and feel right here."--Julie Ann Grimm, Santa Fe Reporter
"(Edison Eskeets's) collaboration with skilled writer Jim Kristofic uniquely interweaves the Navajo people's painful history with personal commitment and, ultimately, optimism for the future. . . . Kristofic's engaging writing style achieves an effective back-and-forth between occasional vignettes from different points in Eskeets's past and frequent episodes--often humorous, occasionally poignant--from out on the road."--John Kissane, PodiumRunner
"With starkly beautiful prose, the authors bring all of this to urgent life, vividly depicting the numerous outbreaks of brutal violence and clearly demonstrating the remarkable resiliency of the Diné. . . . A unique, important addition to the literature on the Navajo."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"In describing an aging Navajo's long-distance run to mark how a painful episode in that tribe's past ends in triumph, Eskeets and Kristofic revisit a noteworthy chapter in Native American history. As he tells it, an old story lives again as a deeply human, contemporary event of lasting magnitude."--Paul G. Zolbrod, author of Diné bahané: The Navajo Creation Story
"As Edison Eskeets commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Navajo Long Walk, a forced march by the US Government into captivity, with a punishing fifteen-day, 330-mile long-distance run, he is followed by the history of his people and their resistance and courage, and he is accompanied by the spirits of those who have come before. Eskeets and Jim Kristofic take us along on a journey of heroic physical sacrifice in all its cultural and spiritual significance in Send a Runner."--Bruce J. Gjeltema, University of New Mexico-Gallup