The Earth Memory Compass

King with family after book talk at the Ocatvia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, NM (January 2020)


The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth CenturyUniversity Press of Kansas (October 2018). Published in Cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University.

Cover art by Diné artist Jonathan Totsoni.

Download the book order form here: Earth Memory Compass UPK

Please support the University Press of Kansas.

Farina King dedicates this book to Ashkii Yázhí, Haské, Naat’áanii, Adezbaa’, and Diné children of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Háiida kwá’ásiní léi’, Loved Ones.

Thank you to all the friends, family, committees, organizations, institutions, and communities that have supported this work.

King appreciates the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance (ONNSFA), which provided her funding throughout her higher education. She donates all royalties of this book to ONNSFA, which continues to advance Diné scholars.

Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to support Diné students through the Diné Scholarship Annual Fund (DSAF), “a nonprofit charitable component of ONNSFA to raise and generate revenue exclusively for higher education scholarships and financial assistance.” Learn more on the official DSAF website.

Farina King’s study offers a passionate and thoughtful account of how the Diné, by holding on to their sacred ways of knowing and living, have withstood the long ordeal of educational colonialism. Beautifully written, bold in conception, and packed with intimate stories, this is a must-read for those interested in how indigenous peoples might maintain or rediscover ancestral identities.

David W. Adams, author of Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928 and Three Roads to Magdalena: Coming of Age in a Southwest Borderland, 1890–1990

Nominated for Best First Book Published in 2018 by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

Named one of the “Recent Publications in Western American History, Written by the Talented Young, and Listed in Alphabetical Order by Author” on Patty Limerick’s 2020 top 10 list of must read books, as noted in the weekly blog, “Not my First Rodeo.”

Named one of the “amazing histories that our members [of the Coordinating Council for Women in History] have written” in “Notes from the Executive Director” by Sandra Trudgen Dawson, Executive Director, CCWH in Summer 2019. See “The Earth Memory Compass” in Member Publications of the CCWH.

In engaging and readable prose, Farina King has produced a compelling autoethnography wherein she introduces readers to the concept of the Earth Memory Compass in order to get academics and laypeople alike to rethink the history of twentieth-century Diné educational experiences. In the process, she helps readers think about land, knowledge, and collective identity creation in ways that will help subsequent generations of scholars forge new work.

Erika Bsumek, author of Indian-Made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1868–1940

One can’t help but be drawn in by King’s own sense of wonder when it comes to her Diné heritage and her love for Diné Bikéyah.

-Navajo Times

King draws important connections between Diné educational experiences and broader struggles for educational equality among non-white communities in the United States.

-American Historical Review

Reviewed by:

Kevin Whalen in American Historical Review, Volume 125, Issue 3, June 2020, pp. 1042-1043.

Matthew Villeneuve in The Western Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, Issue 1, Spring 2020, pp. 100-101.

‘Earth Memory Compass’ leads Diné author homeNavajo Times, January 23, 2020.

An excellent analysis of culture and education among the Navajo people in the twentieth century.

-Pacific Historical Review

James T. Carroll in the Pacific Historical Review, Volume 88, Number 4, Fall 2019, pp. 738-739.

Jennifer Denetdale in the History of Education QuarterlyVolume 59, Issue 3, August 2019, pp. 419-422.

John R. Gram in the Journal of Arizona History, Volume 60, Number 3, Autumn 2019, pp. 343-345.

Miranda J. Haskie in Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education, Volume 31, Number 2, Winter 2019, p. 46.

Robert S. McPherson in Journal of Mormon History, Volume 45, Number 2, April 2019, pp. 148-151.

King’s excellent book shows how Diné children navigated the disorienting terrain of assimilation through schooling to rediscover their way home. Through King’s guidance, readers are lucky to be able to accompany them on a portion of this journey.

-The Western Historical Quarterly