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Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West with author Lauren Redniss
Presented by Lauren Redniss, author, associate professor of illustration at Parsons, The New School and MacArthur Foundation Genius. Sharyl Pahe-Short, visitor services manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will moderate the Q&A.

Oak Flat is a holy place, an ancient burial ground and religious site where Apache girls celebrate the coming-of-age ritual known as the Sunrise Ceremony. In 1995, a massive untapped copper reserve was discovered nearby. A decade later, a law was passed transferring the area to a private company, whose planned copper mine will wipe Oak Flat off the map—sending its natural springs, petroglyph-covered rocks, and old-growth trees tumbling into a void. Lauren Redniss’s book “OAK FLAT: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West” follows the fortunes of two families with profound connections to the contested site: the Nosies, an Apache family whose teenage daughter is an activist and leader in the Oak Flat fight, and the Gorhams, a mining family whose patriarch was a sheriff in the lawless early days of Arizona statehood. This presentation will discuss the still-unresolved Oak Flat conflict, the saga of westward expansion, and the resistance and resilience of Native peoples.


This program is part of the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture Conversation Series sponsored by Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser and hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center.

Nov 16, 2021 05:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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