Thursday, August 16, 2012

Author Jim Kristofic at Hubble Trading Post

Jim Kristofic grew up in Ganado Arizona on the Navajo reservation after moving there with his mother and brother at the age of 7. Ganado is 30 miles from where I live in Chinle.   His book Navajo Wear Nikes, A Reservation Life is a compelling account of an Anglo growing up in an unfamiliar world which he eventually comes to love.    He is honest about the difficulties for a young child as he struggles to be accepted into a new culture and adept at writing about the changes that take place for him as he contintues to make friends and appreciate the freedom and opportunity for adventure and play in a rural setting.
Just before starting second grade, Jim Kristofic moved from Pittsburgh across the country to Ganado, Arizona, when his mother took a job at a hospital on the Navajo Reservation. "Navajos Wear Nikes" reveals the complexity of modern life on the Navajo Reservation, a world where Anglo and Navajo coexisted in a tenuous truce. After the births of his Navajo half-siblings, Jim and his family moved off the Reservation to an Arizona border town where they struggled to readapt to an Anglo world that no longer felt like home.
With tales of gangs and skinwalkers, an Indian Boy Scout troop, a fanatical Sunday school teacher, and the author's own experience of sincere friendships that lead to ho?zho? (beautiful harmony), Kristofic's memoir is an honest portrait of growing up on--and growing to love--the Reservation.

Jim who is a teacher in Pennsylvania, is currently back on the Rez working as a ranger at the famous Hubbell Trading Post, a national landmark very near where he grew up.  He spoke at a book signing there recently.  His passion for the Navajo and Navajo way of life as well as the land are clearly evident.  He spoke about the difficulties of adopting to life back in Pennsylvania where he went to universtiry.  Off the reservation he never quite fits in and people do not understand is expereinces growing up.  I have seen this with my own children after they lived for 3 years in Haiti.

And besides his expereince growing up cross culturally, there is another connection.  When Jim moved to the reservation the first time, he moved here from Pittsburgh.

Jim spoke about writing memoir, how the book began as essays about the reservation, how he needed to learn to put himself into the story to create a memoir as suggested by agents and editors.

Jim is working on several other projects including one he is co-authoring with his step-dad who is Navajo and an artist.  The story is based on one of the Navajo creation stories.  

His facebook link is:

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