Thursday, February 03, 2022

Review: Canyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation

Canyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo NationCanyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation by Michael Powell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title says, this is a story of a basketball season on the Navajo Nation. In particular it focuses on the Chinle High School team that is making a run at the Arizona state championships. It is beautifully told. Powell has a deep respect and love for the region and it comes through in his descriptions of the landscape and the people. The book follows the coach and several of the main players on the team. From here, there are many tangents into the biographies of these individuals, as well as historical accounts of the Navajo. It is part history, part memoir, part ethnography, part sports story. Powell explores, through this basketball team, what living on the reservation is like for many Navajo. He looks at how this affects, positively and negatively, the players on the basketball team. There is also a lot of what you would expect from a sports book: coaches giving life advice, comebacks, underdogs. But it mostly avoids cliche and tells us a good story of how the team grows and develops through the season--both as a team and individually.

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