The Return of Navajo Boy

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Happy Cly and the Unhappy History of Uranium Mining on the Navajo Reservation

Published: January 16, 2012
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The Oxford Journal of Environmental History ran a cover story on uranium mining in the Navajo Nation, using The Return of Navajo Boy as a major source. Marsha Weisiger of New Mexico State University writes in her article:

The camera pans across the vermillion mesas and buttes of Monument Valley that John Ford and John Wayne made mythic. Here, near the border between Utah and Arizona, lives the most famous family you have never heard of, the family of Happy Cly, pictured again and again in Arizona Highways, the portfolios of photographers Josef Muench and Ray Manley, and postcards sold at Goulding’s tourist lodge. Dissolve. The next scenes introduce Cly’s great-grandson, Lorenzo Begay. He leafs through old black-and-white pictures of his family, stills from a movie he has never seen: a smiling girl in a velvet- een blouse studded with silver conchos, a grinning boy with a bandana tied across his forehead. “I never thought that pictures would change anyone’s life,” Begay narrates. “But that was before the return of the Navajo boy.”

To read the full article, visit the Oxford Journals website.

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