Moral Economy | Coal Necklace

I am originally from PiÑon, a community located on Black Mesa of Diné Bikayah. It is located in the middle of our homelands and within the area of our four sacred mountains. Each mountain is represented by a stone: White Shell for the East, Turquoise for the South, Abalone for the West, and Jet for the North.

The raw form of Jet looks like Coal. Jet is a type of lignite, a precursor to coal.

Coal is a rock

COAL IS AT THE CORE OF A COMPLEX SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ISSUE OF PROVIDING A SOURCE OF LIVELIHOOD AND ALLOWING PEOPLE TO REMAIN ON OUR TRADITIONAL LANDS WHILE THEY WORK. OTHERWISE KNOWN AS "MORAL ECONOMY," A TERM USED BY ANDREW CURLEY, A GEOGRAPHER AT UNC-CHAPEL HILL AND MY HUSBAND.

Curley’s work opened my eyes to the effects of Coal on my family. Before, relatives relayed the topic of coal to work and routine. It provided a source of income and i did not ask more questions.

A couple decades later, we understand coal in a fuller and more complex way.

I traveled home to gain more insight from relatives by asking them about their EXPERIENCE with coal. Each family member has an overlapping view on the topic of Coal - *view the Interviews below.

NECKLACE

The Coal for this necklace piece is from Kayenta Mine. My Chei (mother’s father) worked at the coal mine. Today, he has Black LunGs. The coal used for this necklace is from my grandparents’ residence.

Only one of the large black bezels is not coal - it is raw acoma jet. *Look at the photo below, it is first bezel right of pendant.

The pendant is removable and can be worn SEPARATELY. It consists of our four sacred stones and they are are a huge part of how I portray the “traditional” aspect of Navajo jewelry today.

The knowledge of our history and current events make us stronger and more resilient. This knowledge is rooted in talking to relatives, reading books, going to conferences, researching art collections, and more. I utilize this knowledge in my work even though most will not see this when looking at this necklace. But our resiliency is there


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[U]NDERSTANDING THE PERSPECTIVES OF NAVAJO COAL WORKS HELPS US TO BETTER UNDERSTAND COAL’S UNEVEN SOCIAL IMPACT IN AND AROUND INDIGENOUS -SETTLER INTERFACES AND HOW CAPITALIST STRUCTURES AND PRACTICES ARE INCORPORATED INTO INDIGENOUS LIFE AS STRATEGIES OF SURVIVAL.
— Andrew Curley

FAMILY INTERVIEWS

videos are between 5-9 minutes. All three videos total 22 minutes.


Nanibaa Beck