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A book that celebrates Navajo culture just won a national award!

“Voices of Navajo Mothers and Daughters; Portraits of Beauty” continues to receive honors for its depiction of Navajo culture through the words of the women themselves.

The wisdom of more than 60 Navajo grandmothers, mothers, and daughters in 21 families took home a gold medal in the Multicultural category at the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)’s prestigious 35th Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™.

Voices of Navajo Mothers and Daughters: Portraits of Beauty offers compelling oral histories collected by Flagstaff, Arizona, author Kathy Eckles Hooker that are complemented by evocative portraits by nationally renowned photographer David Young-Wolff. Multiple generations of Navajo women open up about their lives, their traditions, and their love for each other. The book also includes informative chapters about Navajo history and culture, including the coming-of-age ceremony (kinaaldá), Changing Woman, the Long Walk, education, and the importance of sheep to Navajo lifeways.

Voices has already been recognized regionally, as a finalist in the Storytelling category at Flagstaff’s Viola Awards and with a grant from the Kahtoola for the People Foundation to distribute copies across the Navajo Nation’s schools and libraries.

The book resonates with readers because the women share intimately from their own perspectives, said Hooker, a former teacher with profound admiration for Navajo culture.

“I’m pleased by the response to this book, especially among Navajo readers, who have embraced it as a carrier of their culture.”

~Kathy Eckles Hooker

One of the women interviewed was Josie Begay-James, who describes the book as “an excellent guide to preserving The Dine´ way of life in changing times.”

“As a photographer, to be welcomed into their homes and lives and to photograph them in their environment was an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Young-Wolff.

A book that celebrates Navajo culture just won a national award!

Josie Begay-James with daughter Tara Love and granddaughter Sheyenne Love
[portrait by David Young-Wolff]

Benjamin Franklin Awards

The Benjamin Franklin Awards are regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers. IBPA received close to 1,800 entries in this year’s program across 56 categories, the second highest number of entries received since the awards began.

“We are delighted to see such diversity in this year’s slate of winners…we saw a range of publisher types, authors and subject matter represented,” said IBPA COO Terry Nathan, who has managed the award program since 1992.

Voices is the fourth title to make the finals for Flagstaff-based Soulstice Publishing in the four years it has been in existence and the second to win gold.

“As a Flagstaff-based book publisher, we’re proud to create books that celebrate the people and places of this distinctive, beautiful, and vibrant region,” says Soulstice co-founder Julie Hammonds, who edited the book. “Voices represents the excellence we always strive to achieve.”

Voices of Navajo Mothers and Daughters: Portraits of Beauty is available for purchase from Soulstice Publishing’s website (www.soulsticepublishing.com/product/mothers-book) and wherever books are sold.

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