Portrayals of Brutality and Beauty in Diné Film and Poetics


  • Mayson Broccoli-Romanowska McMaster University


Diné, Navajo, Indigenous Studies, Literary Criticism


Diné (Navajo) artists excel at depicting their homeland in a variety of ways, sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly. While consuming the variety of Diné creative works depicting its “ugliness” or “boringness” for the first time, I tried to suppress and ignore the thought that lingered in my head: why are these Dinécreatives showing off the ugliness of their land? While I somewhat regret my uninspired reactions to much of the scenery filmed and described, there is merit in exploring this research question. In this essay I present the reasons why Diné creatives sometimes depict the ugliness of their lands by analyzing several reasons, primarily focusing on the balance, or Hózhó that the creatives pursue. Within such a framework, I argue that they reinscribe their land’s personhood and sovereignty to exist without shame, which then dictates filmmaking and poetic structure. I relay the discussion using key works by Diné filmmakers and poets Blackhorse Lowe, Luci Tapahonso, Jake Skeets, Elizabeth Woody, and Blackhorse Mitchell.




How to Cite

Broccoli-Romanowska, Mayson. “Hózhó: Portrayals of Brutality and Beauty in Diné Film and Poetics”. Spectrum, vol. 3, Oct. 2023, pp. 99-105, https://journals.mcmaster.ca/spectrum/article/view/3365.