Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Canyon de Chelly, Chinle Az

The National Park entrance to the Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shay). A cathedral of towering red cliffs, Spider Rock, the 800 foot free standing spire, and a quilt of colors far below where the ancient Navajo people lived.


This is a hogan. To the Navajo, this is both a home and a ceremonial place. This is a cribbed log hogan. With a domed, earthen roof, this hogan will remain a cool 50 to 70 degrees even when outside temperatures rise above 90 degrees.

Interior of Hogan


Our first view of the canyon was from the top of the rim, before we took a tour. This is "Mummy Cave" overlook, where two mummies were discovered. The lack of moisture in the air, and being protected from the elements by the overhangs, contributed to the mumification process. This photo and the next were taken from the same spot, with the same lens. Here, the lens was zoomed to a full 200mm.


In this view, the lens is at 18mm. We are 600 feet above the canyon floor.


Horses on the road. This is a common sight in Navajo country. There are NO signs posted telling drivers there might be livestock close-by. Drivers be aware!


We chose to take a private 3 1/2 hour jeep tour. As we begin, Harris, our Navajo guide, pointed out that, at this point, you can literally step onto the top of the canyon rim, or the canyon floor. The canyon rises from a few feet here, to over 700 feet at some of it's highest points.


As we venture further into the canyon, you can see how the rim is beginning to rise. No one is allowed to enter the canyon except for the Navajo residents, paying customers on the jeep and the horseback tours, and those with permission on one walking tour. The Navajo people have owned this land and passed it down for generations. Our guide, Harris, will someday own land here, as his grandparents still live here, on their own 40 acres. They live in one of the farthest canyons.


Pictographs or Petroglyphs? The difference - petroglyphs are chipped into the rocks - pictographs are paintings on the rocks. Here we show petroglyphs chipped into the surface of the red canyon wall.


Harris is explaining the petroglyphs to Deinna on our first stop.


This is the White House ruin built by ancient Puebloan people. It is named for the long wall in the upper dwelling that is covered with white plaster. We are standing about 200 feet in front of the ruin on the canyon floor.


This is another picture of the White House ruin taken from the canyon rim at an elevation of 700 feet. The ruin is located on the left at approximately 10 o'clock at the small break in the tree line, under the rock overhang. Try clicking on the image to enlarge, making it easier to locate.


Like everywhere else in this area, the horses and cows roam free.

1 comment:

Jay River said...

Here is a film clip laced with history from Canyon De Chelly:

It's from a dvd on Edward S. Curtis, which bears on other Indian lands as well.

More info:

ES Curtis Film Clip

The Indian Picture Opera