English professor awarded national funding for new book

Jeff Berglund

Jeff Berglund, an assistant professor in the Department of English, has been awarded a $5,000 summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities to work on his new book, Remembering the Long Walk to Hwééldi: Diné (Navajo) Memorial Histories.

His book will contrast the different ways the 1864-1868 period of Diné (Navajo) imprisonment at Hwééldi (Fort Sumner, N.M.) has been memorialized. The award will support Berglund’s research examining how Diné cultural interests are represented differently by native and non-native perspectives in various forms of art and writing.

“Public memorials are an important part of out national healing process,” Berglund said. “As our national culture recovers from traumatic events, ways to remember them take both figurative and literal forms. My project will highlight the multiple ways—personal, social, public, creative and expressionistic—American histories are recorded and are made urgent and relevant again.”

The Long Walk

In 1863 the U.S. government perceived treaties had been broken by the Diné. After a “scorched earth” campaign to destroy orchards, crops and livestock, as well as the will of the people, Col. Kit Carson oversaw the removal of Diné people from Diné bikéyah (traditional sacred land). They were forced to walk as far as 470 miles to Fort Sumner, at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico, known to the Diné as Hwééldi. By the end of 1864, 8,500 Diné people were confined with 400 Mescalero Apache. The Diné were imprisoned until 1868, suffering the loss (just at the internment site) of up to 2,500 people. To secure their release, Chief Barbancito and other Diné headsmen negotiated what is known as the Navajo Treaty, which extended the right to return to a circumscribed portion of traditional homelands.

Berglund, a faculty member at NAU since 1999, said he is “elated, validated and inspired to get to work.”

Berglund teaches a range of classes at NAU, including contemporary literature, U.S. literature, Southwest literature, American Indian literature and multi-ethnic literature.

He is a new affiliate faculty in NAU’s Applied Indigenous Studies; an affiliate faculty and steering committee member in Ethnic Studies; the vice chair of the University Liberal Studies Committee and a board member of the Northern Arizona Book Festival. He regularly presents at the national meetings of the Modern Language Association, Navajo Studies Association and the Native American Literature Symposium.

His publishing history includes: Cannibal Fictions: American Explorations of Colonialism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality (Wisconsin, 2006); articles in Studies in American Indian LiteratureAmerican Indian QuarterlyCamera Obscura,Studies in American Fiction and Discourse. He is currently co-editing a collection of critical essays on native author Sherman Alexie. He is an alumni of Ohio State University, Washington University, St. Louis University and Creighton University.