Melissa Yazzie


“Once I turned 18, I left the small ranching community I called home in northwestern Colorado and never looked back. A college admittance essay where I discussed the diasporic experiences I’d observed in immigrant Mexican families in my hometown was the gateway to an education centered on comparative studies in race and ethnicity, a political science major and Spanish minor, and a lifelong curiosity into the interplay of space and place in influencing worldviews and demographics. Leaving the nurturing and powerfully beautiful landscape of home for two decades of urban city living energized a thirst to test my boundaries and meet America.

I’m taking the long route back to my ancestral homelands. Turns out America is captivating and distracting. It’s part trustworthy friend but also a deceitful underhanded blemish to all you previously believed. It’s all of the honest parts of a Springsteen or Gaslight Anthem song but also the solitary hopefulness of Chester Knight. It interrupts and straps you.

Two-thirds of the way across the country, I’m 1,272 miles from the epicenter of creation and the home of my paternal family. St. Louis is just another stop on the way to permanently right wrongs that’ll settle five centuries of storming for my relatives. The only tail lights worth heeding at this point are adorned with turquoise, abalone, jet, and shell.”