Amber McCrary

Diné, Akimel O’odham and Piipaash lands, Arizona

Amber McCrary
GRANTEE:  Amber McCrary
LOCATION:  Akimel O’odham and Piipaash lands, Arizona
AWARD:  2022 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE: Fiction/Poetry writing
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Instagram

Originally from Shonto, Arizona and raised in Flagstaff, Amber McCrary gravitated toward angsty art, foreign movies, zines, and classic punk music. She earned her BA from Arizona State University in Political Science with a minor in American Indian Studies, and her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at Mills College. She also has a background in radical publishing such as zines and collages which focus on Diné identity, intersectional feminism, and racism. McCrary is the creator of DANG! Zine (Daydreaming, Awkward, Native, Girl!) Vol. 1 and Vol.2, Angsty Asdzáá: Tales of an Angry Indigenous Womxn zine, and The Asdzáá Beat.

McCray’s process of creation consists of major research on historical and contemporary issues surrounding Diné identity, which include, K’é (Navajo kinship), land, language, love, loss, trauma, substance abuse, violence, and matriarchy. Her process of creation includes visiting home, talking to family, sharing pictures and stories of extended family, and finding the time to be alone and write. She recently released a chapbook of poetry titled, Electric Deserts! (Tolsun Books). She is the owner and founder of Abalone Mountain Press, a press dedicated to publishing Indigenous voices. You can find her poems, interviews and art at Yellow Medicine Review, POETRY Magazine, Room MagazinePoets and Writers Magazine and The Navajo Times.

When I see other expressions of art, I feel like that helps me realize that I’m not so alone with everything that’s going on. My reaction’s not a singular reaction. Other people are feeling the same thing, too.

—Amber McCrary (Diné, Akimel O’odham and Piipaash lands, Arizona)


McCrary’s LIFT Project, Baa, is a novel that focuses on the 1974 Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act, which created an artificial boundary, dividing in half, 1.8 million acres of jointly owned Navajo-Hopi land. The enactment of this law, driven by Peabody Energy and its access to Black Mesa’s coal rich subsurface, resulted in governmental efforts to relocate 10-15,000 Navajos who found themselves living on the wrong side of the fence. The novel mainly focuses on the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, the eventual relocation of the Navajo family in the novel and the destruction it causes to the family’s psyche, morale, and lives. Informing McCrary’s work is her father’s family, who was part of the dispute.