This is Joe Mace, a Diné elder from Ojo Encino, New Mexico. He’s my grandfather and was the main Diné translator for the project. He is deeply connected to the communities surrounding Torreon,New Mexico, and works to provide outreach for Diné youth on their culture and identity.
This piece represents my grandfather’s childhood, one of hardship and continued survival. The spoon on the right is a remnant of his childhood home, a place that today is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. On the left is the only existing photograph of Joe as a young man. It was taken in front of Fort Wingate, the residential boarding school he attended for four years. Fort Wingate is notorious for being the starting point for the forced removal of the Diné during the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo. This led to the loss of culture, language, and the historical trauma that still affects many Diné people today.