A work of visual nonfiction about three generations of an Apache family struggling to protect sacred land from a multinational mining corporation, by MacArthur “Genius” and National Book Award finalist Lauren Redniss.
In her fourth work of visual nonfiction...[Redniss] 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.
..Redniss...combines drawings with reportage and oral history to tell the story of America’s decimation of indigenous people and culture in this gorgeous, devastating, and hopeful ethnographic account ... Redniss’s glowing colored-pencil illustrations capture the surreal magic of Southwestern landscapes: from a green-eyed ocelot, to the nearly empty Main Street in Superior. The future of Oak Flat and other sacred sites remains precarious, but Redniss effectively conveys the importance of these grounds and delivers a respectful and powerful portrait of people who are down but refuse to be counted out.
....artistically and thematically profound ... Here, [Redniss] frames her provocative narrative with artistry that evokes the awe and wonder of Native origin stories and the timelessness of eternity ... 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.