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Where We Belong: Chemehuevi and Caxcan Preservation of Sacred Mountains

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This comparative work dispels the harmful myth that Native people are unfit stewards of their sacred places. This work establishes Indigenous preservation practices as sustaining approaches to the caretaking of the land that embody ecological sustainability, spiritual landscapes, and community well-being.

The author brings together the history and experiences of the Chemehuevi people and their ties with Mamapukaib, or the Old Woman Mountains in the East Mojave Desert, and the Caxcan people and their relationship with Tlachialoyantepec, or Cerro de las Ventanas, in Zacatecas, Mexico. Through a trans-Indigenous approach, Daisy Ocampo weaves historical methodologies (oral histories, archival research, ethnography) with Native studies and historic preservation to reveal why Native communities are the most knowledgeable and transformational caretakers of their sacred places.

This work transcends national borders to reveal how settler structures are sustained through time and space in the Americas. Challenging these structures, traditions such as the Chemehuevi Salt Songs and Caxcan Xuchitl Dance provide both an old and a fresh look at how Indigenous people are reimagining worlds that promote Indigenous-to-Indigenous futures through preservation.

Ultimately, the stories of these two peoples and places in North America illuminate Indigenous sovereignty within the field of public history, which is closely tied to governmental policies, museums, archives, and agencies involved in historic preservation.

ISBN-13: 9780816541812

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: University of Arizona Press

Publication Date: 06-13-2023

Pages: 296

Daisy Ocampo (Caxcan) is an assistant professor of history at California State University, San Bernardino. Her research focuses on Native and public history as they intersect with Indigenous peoples, voices, and community narratives.