Carolyn Niethammer grew up outside Prescott, Arizona. After college, she lived for about six months in rural Northern California and learned from an elderly Indian man how to gather many of the edible wild plants of the area. when she returned to Arizona to live in Tucson, she began to wonder what the native people who lived in the desert had eaten before the white settlers came bringing European crops. Her curiosity led to two years of traveling throughout the Southwest, talking to and cooking with Native American women. Her experiences resulted in her first book, American Indian Cooking, Recipes from the Southwest (University of Nebraska Press). This book was followed by two others on Native American women, Daughters of the Earth The Lives and Legends of Indian Women (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster) and the award-winning biography I’ll Go and Do More: Annie Dodge Wauneka, Navajo Leader and Activist (University of Nebraska Press).
Keeping the Rope Straight Annie Dodge Wauneka’s Life of Service to the Navajo is her eighth book and is published by Salina Bookshelf, Inc.
Annie Wauneka devoted her life to helping her people. Inspired by the example of her father, Henry Chee Dodge, Annie immersed herself in tribal politics and became a leader in the battle against tuberculosis. With amazing skill and foresight, Annie melded traditional Navajo culture with the modern world, and brought about unprecedented improvements in the healthcare and education available to her people. As a Tribal Council delegate and chairperson of the Health and Welfare Committee, she changed many lives and motivated countless individuals.
Although obstacles loomed in her path, Annie confronted them boldly. Her years of service earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to her by Lyndon B. Johnson. More precious however, was her title of "Our Legendary Mother" in the hearts of the people of the Navajo Nation.