As part of the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” currently showing at the Student Center on the USU Eastern campus, Navajo storyteller Stacie Denetsosie will be reading from her latest book “The Missing Morningstar: And Other Stories: on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Room. Refreshments will be served, and door prizes will be given away.
The Navajo Nation spans the four corners area and is roughly the size of Ireland or West Virginia. As of 2023, only 13 grocery stores are serving the Navajo Nation compared to the 746 in West Virginia. A reality about rural living is that many of us live in food deserts, which are geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable healthy food options is limited. A significant amount of people have to travel off-reservation up to 200 miles to buy affordable vegetables and meat. A majority of Denetsosie’s stories feature gas stations as a central place where the action takes place or the location before the action takes place.
Gas stations are far more than a slice of life where gritty things happen. They are landmarks, oases and moments of reprieve for weary travelers. Denetsosie said, “as a writer, I want to challenge a reader’s expectation of place, whether it be in the Navajo Nation or in a gas station on the way home. How can these ordinary places spark the imagination? In rural communities, we are told that we live where ‘nothing much’ happens, but is that really true?”
About the Book:
“The Missing Morningstar: And Other Stories” by Stacie Shannon Denetsosie
Stacie Shannon Denetsosie confronts long-reaching effects of settler-colonialism on Native lives in a series of gritty, wildly imaginative stories. A young Navajo man catches a ride home alongside a casket he’s sure contains his dead grandfather. A gas station clerk witnesses the kidnapping of the newly-crowned Miss Northwestern Arizona. A young couple’s search for a sperm donor raises questions of blood quantum. This debut collection grapples with a complex and painful history alongside an inheritance of beauty, ceremony, and storytelling.
About the Author:
Stacie Shannon Denetsosie is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. Her clans are Todích’íí’nii (Bitterwater Clan), born for Naakaii (Mexican Clan). She is from Kayenta, Arizona, but currently resides in Northern Utah. She is a recipient of the UCROSS Native American Fellowship. Denetsosie graduated with her MFA in Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2021. Her work has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Phoebe Magazine and Cut Bank. Her debut short story collection, “The Missing Morningstar: and Other Stories” received a Kirkus Star, and she is also a contributor to the Torrey House Press anthology Blossom as the Cliffrose: Mormon Legacies and the Beckoning Wild.