"Comb Ridge and Its People" by Robert McPherson

Reviewed by Tara

ISBN 9780874217377

Comb Ridge and Its People is an in-depth look at the scientific and cultural significance surrounding one of the most prominent landforms in the desert southwest. The intriguing collaboration of stories from members of Ute, Paiute, and Navajo tribes, Mormons, and long-time residents of the area add the kind of personal depth that makes this anything but your average textbook, not to mention the striking photos that appear on nearly every page.

Comb Ridge is the sort of geologic phenomenon that causes travelers to slow their vehicles to a crawl, gaping over steering wheels to peer up while driving through a cut segment that accommodates Highway 95. A serrated spine of sandstone stretching for one hundred miles, Comb Ridge juts out of the desert sand over two hundred feet high. You might be enticed to agree that this truly is "Mother Earth's Backbone," a name ascribed by the Utes.

McPherson presents a complex history of the Comb spanning prehistoric use, indian and anglo land-ownership disputes, economic development, and present day concerns over how to best preserve the deteriorating archeological remnants laced throughout the canyons along the formation.

McPherson's most significant resource while writing Comb Ridge and Its People came from archeologist and friend Winston Hurst and the Comb Ridge Archeological Survey Project, as well as Navajo Medicine Man John Holiday for contributing much ethno-historical perspective from his traditional background.