I am trying to live in two worlds.
I was born in Utah. My white father descended from the Mormon pioneers. His grandparents were polygamists. My full-blood Navajo mother — who was taken from her family at age five to be assimilated into white culture at the Tuba City Boarding School — joined the Mormon church in her 20s.
Mom had the typical boarding school experience. Overwhelming homesickness, having her mouth washed out with soap for accidentally speaking forbidden Navajo, witnessing others endure severe punishment for being incorrigible in some Navajo way and a constant curriculum of You Need to Become White Now. My mom was smart, she learned fast to conform, to survive. She excelled at the school and even skipped grades.