of Floating Hogans in Monument Valley by Wanda Morlan Eilts:
email received by the author 09/23/2008
Good Morning Shil naah ashh (My late Fathers clan) and Grandma.(My Grandpaternal Clan)
We just got done reading the book, it was interesting, very interesting. At first I thought to myself, "I lived the adventure and seen
it felt it, we, personally lived it with my little family back then. Why should I read it." But the curiousity took over. What did
they write? So I pick up the book and started to read it, I never put it down once I started to read it. I really enjoyed reading about
the land, how descriptive you were. How you can actually see the colors of the land change before your eyes as the sun rose over the
horizon, the smell of the thunderstorm, to feel he chill of wind after the storm has past. The smell of smoke from a fire nearby, that
was awesome. That was my backyard, those were my people, the story took us back, so many years ago. The memories that we have are
precious, the knowledge we gained were valuable. We grew to understand ourselves more, we grew not to jump the gun and call someone a
traitor without knowing the facts. We felt the pain and learned to live with it. We are better people because of it. Thanks for the
Crash Course in Marina Management, your understanding and patience. I know all your kids are forever using the tools in their everyday
life. Thanks for sharing your world with us, you are a part of it, as we are in yours. Well, we gotta get busy with stuff now..Have a
wonderful day and thanks for the books.
T and L
Floating Hogans shows life, times of San Juan Marina
Posted: Wednesday, Nov 14th, 2007
BY: Lee Pulaski — Lake Powell Chronicle
Antelope Point Marina is all the rage right now because it is Lake Powell’s floating marina. However, there was a floating marina that existed years before Antelope Point’s construction began, and local author Wanda Morlan Eilts gives readers some insight about it in her new book, “Floating Hogans in Monument Valley.”
The San Juan Marina was the Navajo Nation’s first attempt at a marina on Lake Powell, and Wanda and her husband, Terry, were the first managers of the marina. “Floating Hogans” chronicles the year the couple spent running San Juan and what happened in the years after they left.
Wanda and Terry had spent many years working at various marinas around Lake Powell, but they had not worked with many Navajos, so the arrival at this new marina in May 1987 was quite a culture shock. Wanda tells of how she greeted the people in the Anglo manner, not realizing that the Navajo people consider a firm handshake and eye contact to be disrespectful.
Fortunately, the Navajo people who worked with the couple greeted them warmly. Still, it took some adjusting for Wanda and Terry to get used to the different cultural values.
For the first few weeks, the employees would show up at their mobile home during all hours to visit, so Wanda and Terry established the “shade” system, where the couple would indicate they wanted to be left alone by pulling down their window shades. This led to jokes from the employees, who Wanda fondly thought of as her kids, about what they were doing behind the shades.
However, Wanda discovered how kind and caring the Navajo people were the first time she had to cross a wash during a flash flood to get to town for the mail and other errands. She tells readers about how a Navajo man helped her to find a way around the flooding via a high sandbar. Daily travel to town was a necessity because the marina did not have water and sewer processing systems, so water had to be trucked in, and sewage had to be trucked out.
Most of the first half of the book is mostly positive, but the reader is first jolted by Wanda’s tale about the murder of two Navajo police officers assigned to be part of the law enforcement contingent for the area. Being in a remote part of the reservation, the people who worked at San Juan Marina were shocked to discover that something as horrific as murder could happen there. What is even more shocking is who gets arrested for the crime.
Things really start to turn sour in the second half of the book. The marina employees had received positive evaluations from National Park Service, but the concessionaire that Wanda and Terry worked for had failed to provide financial reports for the agency’s review.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Mr. K, the couple’s contact with the concessionaire, claimed there was no money to put back in the marina for upgrades, repairs, etc., despite San Juan having a stellar season. However, Mr. K seems to have plenty of money to go on trips to China and other overseas locations, which raised a lot of questions.
Wanda tells of how she and her husband had to invest their own money in order to keep the marina going, as Mr. K was not giving up a dime. Some emergency situations that would usually be fixed in several hours would take days to get done because of the red tape Terry had to go through to get the concessionaire to fork over the funds to make needed repairs.
“Floating Hogans” gives some interesting insight into what could be described as a test run for a Navajo-run floating marina. Wanda Morlan Eilts succeeds in lulling readers into a false sense of security with the fact that, despite some bugs needing to be worked out, this new marina was a good thing. Then she wakes you up with the revelation that there were forces at work beyond her and Terry’s control, which ultimately led to the marina’s demise.
It was hard to find anything negative about the book, but the only loose thread that had not been sewn up was what ultimately happened to the book’s antagonist, Mr. K. Although all signs indicate he had been embezzling funds that were supposed to be used for the marina, thus defrauding the Navajo Nation, there is no report on whether he was made to pay for his crimes or got away with it.
“Floating Hogans” is a wonderful story about a new beginning in a strange land. It starts out as a quiet river trip before turning a corner toward some emotional rapids. It gives you humor, drama, tragedy and the all-important happy ending, which you will have to find out about yourself.
(Lee Pulaski is the editor of the Lake Powell Chronicle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
• Positive aspects: The book feels like you are reading someone’s diary, showing the emotions of excitement and apprehension in the beginning before turning to sadness and despair later on.
• Negative aspects: The reader does not find out what happens to the book’s antagonist, Mr. K. After all the heartbreak and trouble he caused, we never find out if he received his comeuppance.
• Grade: A
FYI Publisher's Note - Mr. K. passed away before the book was written. Wanda and Terry had no contact with him in the intervening years and have no idea 'if he received his comeuppance.'
There is an interesting interview with Wanda and Terry on the front page of the
Lake Powell Chronicle about how she came to write Floating Hogans In Monument Valley.