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Location/Geography: Arizona, Apache County, the closest town is Chinle. Area: 131 square miles. Off Hwy. 191 and Route 7 (at Chinle). Defiance Plateau region. Chinle Wash separates the north and south rims.

Spotlight: Considered the last stronghold of the Navajo when forced to leave their land in 1864, this three-pronged canyon represents a riparian (streamside) sector with desert terrain ideal for farming and raising sheep. With its swirly looking pink or orange sandstone, Canyon de Chelly's (pronounced "de-shay") chasm is hidden in the plane of its topography until viewed from either rim. Most famous landmark: the Spider Rock monolith jutting from the canyon floor. Most famous ruins: White House, a cliff dwelling inscribed into sandstone walls above the canyon floor.

White House ruins and Spider Rock (by Flickriver):

Snapshot: Canyon de Chelly NM is a unit of the NPS, while the governing body is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The monument and its lengthy setting preserve ruins of the early indigenous tribes that once lived there, mainly the Ancestors. The monument encompasses the floors and rims of three canyon annexes: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. The name (de) Chelly is Spanish in origin and comes from the Navajo word Tséyi’ meaning canyon(literally, inside the rock). The most distinctive feature of this setting, apart from its attractive geology, is the twin sandstone spire, Spider Rock. Its stunning column rises totem-like some 800 feet (240 m) from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. According to Navajo legend, the taller of the two spires is also the home of Spider Woman. Canyon de Chelly remains in the ownership of the Navajo Nation, while matters pertaining to its natural features are administered by the Department of the Interior (under the auspices of the NPS). Visitors entering the canyon complex must be authorized by either a park ranger or a Navajo guide. However, the famed White House Ruin trail is accessible to visitors without a guide. The setting’s status as a national monument was made official in 1931.

(Continues after the fold.)

Guided Tour Essentials: Canyon de Chelly is three canyons in one, all with towering walls overlooking the main stream, the Rio de Chelly, that indolently flows in the middle of this wide, spacious chasm. The key to the geologic formations is the direct connection with the regional Defiance Uplift (an uplifted region extending from the Four Corners region to the E-W I-40 corridor and just inside Arizona’s border). The uplift itself trends north-south along an anticline (a convex up fold in the planet’s crust with the oldest layers at its core) for over 100 miles. Here in the canyon, the youngest geologic rocks of the Paleozoic Era overlap the more ancient Precambrian foundation, representing millions of years of so-called unconformities (missing rock layers). Like all canyons, this impressive canyon domain cut and carved near Chinle, Arizona could not have been accomplished without the geophysical force of an uplift and the consequent downcutting of water. In this case, three gentle and shallow streams followed by erosion. Apart from the gorgeous and commanding view of the canyon itself, the de Chelly Sandstone (deposited sometime roughly between 230 and 250 million years ago) is not the usual horizontally deposited type of sandstone. Instead, it is windblown and cross-bedded, meaning there are many depositional surfaces, all highly inclined to the horizontal. The deepest layer is composed of numerous wedges, with steeply dipping angles greater than thirty degrees. The result is a facade of petrified sand dunes, whose swirling contour still seems like a petrified desert landscape.

Phillip Hyde photograph of the canyon's exquisite, swirling sandstone:

Geology: The trinity of canyons making up Canyon de Chelly were each cut by streams with headwaters in the regional Chuska Mountains (east of the monument). The Rio de Chelly originates close to the Arizona-New Mexico borders, winding its way westward where it empties into Chinle Wash just west of the canyon. In this sector, the tortuous and usually wide stream is enclosed by high vertical walls ranging in depth from an average of 1,000 feet to about 30 feet at the mouth of Canyon de Chelly. The canyon is on the northwest slope of the Defiance Uplift and ends in the west, where the de Chelly sandstone formation plunges under the surface just east of Chinle, Arizona. The elongate Defiance Uplift (a/k/a/ an "upwarp") during the Laramide period is the deciding factor regarding the geology and topographical features in this region. (This orogeny marks a lengthy period of intense mountain-building in western North America that roughly began 71 to 81 million years ago and ended roughly between 35 to 55 million years ago.)

As is the case of all canyons, the original landscape was common and featureless. Then came this pivotal uplift event, where the land rose above regional seas on several occasions. As a result, Permian rocks of the Paleozoic Era directly rest atop Precambrian rocks, which represents millions of years of unconformities (missing rock strata from the tapestry of time). Steeply inclined on its eastern flank, but sloping more gently on its western side, the uplift has eroded down and into older rock layers (notably de Chelly Sandstone). Other than the entire Colorado Plateau even that raised the Four Corners region, the Defiance Uplift is the secondary geophysical force that initially elevated the Canyon de Chelly region. This upwarp effect of the earth’s topographical features extends from the Four Corners region to I-40 just inside the Arizona border. This specific and regional uplift also typifies a north-south anticline extending over 100 miles. Think of an immense physical force pushing up a gently uplifted island in the midst of the already elevated Colorado Plateau. That’s precisely what happened here.

The Enduring Effects Of Down-Cutting: Regarding the catalyst behind Canyon de Chelly's downcutting process, all three canyon sectors were carved by streams (Rio de Chelly, Tsaile and Whiskey Creeks), which come together to form Chinle Wash. The Rio de Chelly is the primary stream that drains the canyon. The soaring walls of the canyon, including Canyon del Muerto, are higher eastward as the de Chelly Sandstone formation rises toward the summit of the Defiance Plateau. Because of the erosional process, Canyon de Chelly became not only a classic and highly picturesque canyon backdrop, but also provided an ideal and natural protection for both ancient and modern Native Americans. (Perhaps the classic 1904 archive photograph of just how attractive the canyon's setting is this diary's Edward S. Curtis opening photograph largely known as Seven riders on horseback and dog trek against the background of canyon cliffs.)

Fetching Rocks: The orange-tinctured de Chelly bedrock is not the usual horizontally deposited kind of sandstone. This unique sandstone is heavily cross-bedded, revealing a number of depositional surfaces highly inclined to the horizontal, and composed of wedges with steeply dipping angles greater than thirty degrees. In short, there’s an obvious tilt of this very noticeable formation. Its structure also indicates a windblown (aeolian) origin for the individual rock layers. This de Chelly sandstone’s cross-stratification is very typical of wind-blown dune deposits that attained a depth of some 50 feet. Laid down as sediments during the Permian Period (roughly, 90 to 250 million years ago), you don’t have to know too much about geology to know this foundational material comes with a unique flair of its design. Capping this material is the harder and more resistant Shinarump Conglomerate. A member of the Mesozoic Era's Chinle Formation (roughly, 210 to 230 million years ago), its base material is a mixture of coarse sand and rounded pebbles of Precambrian rock (notably, chert, a fine-grained silica-rich microcrystalline sedimentary rock). The exposed upper surface of this conglomerate rock is also scoured by wind and rain. Scored with myriad shallow potholes, its veneer provides ideal nesting places for canyon wrens, swifts and swallows. From most of the vistas on either side of the canyon, the sharp contact between the Shinarump Conglomerate and de Chelly Sandstone is clearly exposed, representing some sixty years of erosion or non-deposition.

Famous Ansel Adams Canyon de Chelly photo:

Another striking feature of the canyon’s attractive walls is the sweeping laminae (a thin layer) of the sandstone's wind-deposited origins, which is especially noticeable above White House Ruin. The artistry of the cross-bedding effect forms the sloping ceilings of numerous recesses and alcoves. Many canyon walls are also streaked with shiny stains of manganese and iron oxides commonly called desert varnish (a/k/a/ "patina"). These engaging ribbons of carbonaceous plant material either originate from overlying soils or were formed in place as algae, lichens, and mosses that typically grow on damp surfaces.

Classic patina stripes:

Photo by Steve Bingham

Human History: Found in the gaping fissure of Canyon de Chelly are numerous archeological resources on both rims, walls and bottomlands. Typical of the Colorado Plateau’s climate, the ruins have been preserved largely due to aridity and the natural shelter of these caves and overhangs. Among the ruins are a wide variety of delicate artifacts and organic remains. These have been preserved and represent over 1500 years of human occupation. Scores of petroglyphs represent the ancient human presence of this protective fortress-sanctuary and its popularity with the Ancestral Puebloans. (For a complete background on their culture, recommend reading Most of their villages were built between 350 and 1300. The earliest known occupants constructed individual circular pithouses, so called because the lower parts of the dwellings were hollowed pits dug into the ground. Initially, the chief weapon of these aboriginal people was a spear-throwing device called an atlatl. (The bow-and-arrow was not a viable tool until centuries later.) They were hunters and so-called dry farmers who made excellent baskets, sandals and other woven articles for clothing, as well as mats for sleeping on the ground.

Early on in their developing culture the Ancestral Puebloans did not make pottery, because its invention doesn't appear until the Basketmaker III Era (about 500 to 750). Because of their fine basketry, these primal residents are also commonly referred to as the Basketmaker people. In later centuries, the Basketmaker II and III-era people adopted innovative ideas, which were introduced by transient outsiders. It’s also possible they learned these ideas from other tribes during their migrations elsewhere. For example, the art of making pottery, the bow and arrow, bean cultivation, and much later, growing cotton (during the Pueblo IV Era, about 1350 to 1600). The style of their houses also gradually changed over the centuries. Pit-houses fell out of use and were replaced with rectangular houses of stone masonry above the ground. These dwellings also connected to form compact villages. So began the apartment house theme after 700. The dwellers of these stone abodes lived in pueblos, a Spanish word for village. Most of the large and impressive cliff houses were later built between 1100 and 1300, which defines the so-called Pueblo II and III Eras. Sometime during the late 1300s, and possibly close to 1279, a prolonged drought affected what is now the Four Corners region. At this time the people abandoned the area.

The closer view (Flickriver):

Contemporary People: Puebloans of Arizona and New Mexico are direct descendants of the pre-Columbian people who lived in Canyon de Chelly, as well as all other archeological sites throughout the Colorado Plateau. The Hopi may have visited the region, perhaps even sowing and harvesting crops. Somewhere around 1700 is thought Navajos entered the region and began to settle here. Canyon de Chelly was preferred both as a stronghold and agricultural area. Initially, its high-walled domain was used as one of the main staging points for raiding New Mexican villages throughout the Rio Grande region. It’s not known when Europeans first came to this region; however, a Spanish map made in 1776 includes Canyon de Chelly in its drawings. Later retaliatory raids of the Spaniards  was sanctioned to protect New Spain's (Mexico) political interests and defend the New Mexicans, while also subjugating Navajo invaders. Raids on the Navajos, either launched by the conquistadors or New Mexicans, were common, just as the Navajos repeatedly raided New Mexican villages or Spanish strongholds. Intended to engage the enemy and quash their relentless raids, the Spaniards and Navajos conducted their respective raiding campaigns until 1805, at which time a large Spanish punitive expedition pushed deeper into Navajo territory, eventually invading Canyon de Chelly’s seeming formidable frontier. Their superior force killed scores of Navajo at a famous rock shelter inside the canyon now called Massacre Cave. This bloody historical account is also depicted in pictographs on select canyon walls. Despite the military strength of the Spaniards, the Navajos continued their raids, for this was a way of life with their culture fairly described as a semi-nomadic and warfaring people.

Glyphs marking the men who wore armor and brought horses to the North American continent:

Even after the Americans, the Anglos, arrived some forty years later with the intention of expanding the federal government's land holdings, Navajo raids persisted. The Union Army, however, was as determined to stop the raiding as the Navajo were in continuing these opportunistic sorties. Essentially, the Navajo offensives amounted to stealing from the New Mexicans to replenish crops and livestock (especially horses). Taking captives (for slaves) was also a common practice on both sides.

The Americans encroachment into the canyon-maze territory of the Navajo realized their forces, like the Spaniards before them, had to concentrate their efforts on Canyon de Chelly. Various dragoons that set out to subdue their enemy were also at loss, for they did not know the location of this rumored abode the desert terrain seemingly swallowed and kept secret. The officers in charge only knew this distant and remote setting was far from the Mexican and American settlements. Consequently, the Army continued having difficulty finding this sizable impression, mainly because of how the secret hideout was nestled in a relatively planed desert topography. Its uncharted location was nonetheless deemed important to find. Ongoing sorties continued creeping closer to, what some soldiers considered to be, a phantom setting cleaved into the ranging desert country.

Then in 1864 everything changed. A detachment under Colonel Kit Carson's assigned cavalry regiment discovered what no other units had discovered. The chance sighting happened only after scouts got close enough to the rim to gaze down into Canyon de Chelly’s stone fortress. Realizing an advantage (due to the box canyon snare), the Army penetrated the canyon from the west (near present-day Chinle, Arizona). The Navajo were left with no recourse other than surrender and sign a treaty with the U. S. Government. To say the least, it was a humiliating defeat. Worse than this was the event and scourge that soon followed.

One of the most famous scouts in the American West:

The Shameful "Long Walk" Saga: The Army's determined campaign, inspired by General Carleton, would ultimately end all Navajo raiding. Some eight thousand Navajos were eventually rounded up and forced to settle in eastern New Mexico's Bosque Redondo, which signifies the Navajo Long Walk saga. This literal concentration camp relocation and exodus was a forced and desperate march to eastern New Mexico. Carleton’s plan for the Navajo’s new settlement was based on staunch idealism, whereby the nomadic warriors would be turned into pastoral farmers. Yet the plan failed after just four years. Eastern New Mexico was a territory the Navajo despised and many of them perished living there. Those who did survive were finally permitted to return to their homeland, not as interlopers bent on revenge, but as peaceful emigrants who would become farmers and sheep herders on their own reservation. This was also the native land and landscape they had originally come to, including Canyon de Chelly’s maze and desert environment where few others would tread. This was also home and now there was an established and lasting peace between the Americans and the Navajos. In time, the Corps of Topographical Engineers ventured into the canyon, not with weapons, but with scientific instruments. There they recorded several archeological sites, including the most famous, Casa Blanca (meaning "White House").

A book highly recommended that thoroughly covers Kit Carson's life and the so-called Indian campaigns (as well as the Americanization of the West):

Flora And Fauna: Vegetation within Canyon de Chelly is almost entirely within the Transition Zone, ranging from desert grassland in the area of Chinle Wash, to evergreen forest on the Defiance Plateau and Chuska Mountain range. Native plants found in the depths of the canyon are typical in this region: yucca, opuntia cactus and grama grass, and selected small stands of Utah juniper and Mexican pine. Yucca fiber was important to prehistoric peoples for making cords, sandals and baskets. Piñon nuts were also a staple fall and winter food source for cliff dwellers and modern Navajo alike. Wildlife include coyote, raccoon, badger, kit fox, mountain lion, and bobcat. Occasionally, black bear wander into the canyon.

Then there are the other animals the Navajo are famous for herding and shearing (and of course, sheep dig is one of their favorite meals (National Geographic photo):


Bonus Details: Myths are important to the Navajo, and the Spider Woman is perhaps the most famous regarding its theme of possessing supernatural powers. According to their beliefs, the Navajo at the time of Spider Woman's creation (and consequently their own) emerged from a Third World into this, the Fourth World. It was thought that monsters roamed the land and killed many people (who one assumes were not people of the Fourth World). Spider Woman loved her people.

As a protector, she gave power to Monster-Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water to search for the Sun-God who was their father. When found, Sun-God showed them how to destroy all the monsters on land and in water. Because Spider Woman had preserved them, the Navajo consider her a pivotal and honored deity. She also chose the top of the designated monolith where she lives, Spider Rock. It was also Spider Woman who taught the people the art of weaving upon a loom. For the children, there's also a special significance regarding Spider Woman: When hearing warnings about their ill behavior from parents and guardians, they know that if they fail to act accordingly Spider Woman will descend her web-ladder and carry them up to her home to devour them! Children also learn that the top of the monolith is white from the sun-bleached bones of Navajo children who did not behave.

There are many fine books written about the iconic Spider Woman. This is one of them:

Beside the fable of Spider Woman, there is Spider Grandmother, the creator of the world in many Native American religions, especially fostered by Puebloan Indians and Navajo. Spider Grandmother is responsible for the stars in the sky, for according to fable she took a web she had spun and laced it with dew, then threw the web into the sky and the dew became stars.

Of course, there are other kinds of legends written about this canyon, and sometimes Hollyweird films a decent yarn. This is perhaps one of the most famous movie with a star-studded cast:

Scenic Drives And Hikes: The South Rim's 36-mile roundtrip drive offers five impressive overlooks, while the North Rim's 32-mile roundtrip drive offers three. If there’s time to spare, both rims should be visited by tourists. The trail to White House ruins on the South Rim side is the only pathway leading into the canyon, which also does not require a permit. Otherwise, four-wheel vehicle and the larger WW II Army surplus trucks, as well as horseback excursions, are all Navajo-led tours inside the canyon. Overnight stays, either by horseback or smaller vehicles, can also be arranged, including lodging in select hogans at the bottom of the canyon. Navajo guides who enjoys backpacking or day hikes can also be contracted for their services.

Take heed! Also, if the sheep are running (being herded), they have the right-of-way, as do the dogs and Navajos escorting the herd. Just listen for the tingling bells and you'll know they're near.

Directions: From Kayenta, Arizona, go east on Hwy. 160, then right on Route 59 (toward Chinle), then left on Hwy. 191 (south). Visitor center is 3 miles from Route 191 (in Chinle). Coming From Flagstaff, I-40 East, then Hwy. 191 (north). From Gallup, Hwy. 264 to Hwy. 191 (north).

*Parting shots:

Historic USGS photo:

Contact Information: NPS/Canyon de Chelly, P. O. Box 588, Chinle AZ 86503. Phone (Visitor Center): 928-674.5500. Fax 674-5507. Email embedded in NPS site’s URL (click on “Email Us”)

And so, DKos community, we come to the end of another trail, another armchair tour. There will be other scenic places to tour and more supplemental topics to read and think about, so stay tuned for a continuation in this series.

As always, your thoughtful commentaries are welcomed.


FYI: For a list of all diaries posted to date, please see the growing inventory by clicking on my profile. There are many “next” buttons to click in order to view the numerous titles. If commenting on an older diary, please send me an email to my profile account. That way I am sure to notice it and respond. Gracias.

*123rf and George Huey photos

Note: Under the "Fair Use" protocol, which is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work, photographs, pictures and illustrations, including maps (that are not my own personal property), posted in my diaries provide for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in use of another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. Ergo, the diary posts are strictly for an educational purpose and are transformative (using an image in a broader story or educational presentation with text). In short, my diaries are promoting an educational presentation intended only to help Daily Kos community members learn more about the many topics my diaries feature.

Originally posted to richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:02 AM PST.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hoorelly! I love that place. (11+ / 0-)

    Stayed at Thunderbird Lodge several times, camped once.  There's something amazing about a canyon you walk into from ground level, & seeing it rise up around you.  Of course, the rim drive is also lovely.

    Sometimes I can't believe it; I'm movin' past the feelin'...

    by Leftcandid on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:33:56 AM PST

    •  I forgot to mention that. . . (6+ / 0-)

      because the kind of canyon country I work in and visit is always starting out from the rim and going down to the basement. Yep. chelly is the exact opposite. Both rims are great viewing area. That ride to the north rim sector from the Lukachukai Mountains (coming around Shiprock, NM and headed toward Seale (sp?). . .a very engaging drive and one I highly recommend traveling to Canyon de Chelly, or if headed elsewhere from there, then toward Shiprock and making one's way to Cortez and/or Durango, Colorado. . .the heart of the Ancestral Puebloan ruins country. For hiking, the trail leading to White House ruins is also lovely, and it's the only route (thus far) that requires no permit when visiting Canyon de Chelly. If you've been on it, then you'll know it's not all that difficult of terrain to follow. Of course, no skakeboards, wheelchairs and mountain bikes allowed. (ha). Thanks for posting your comment, Leftcandid!

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:03:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I visited Canyon de Chelly (5+ / 0-)

    many years ago.  It is an unforgettable place.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:08:45 AM PST

    •  unforgettable. . . (4+ / 0-)

      yep, that's the way I think of this trinity of chasms. The Navajos have done an excellent job with the tourism market and I can vouch for anyone taking a guided tour with same. Indeed, that's the only way to get into the canyon's interior, either by Jeep, the big bio-fuel Army surplus greenies (trucks), and I strongly recommend a horseback ride, splashing through Chinle Wash. Of course, hiking down to White House ruins from the South Rim is still free and open to the public (sans guide). Thanks for posting, ybruti. Always nice to hear from familiar DKos community folks. . .and of course for all those still to come (as commentary posters). I tend to always answer all my mail, as it were. Love to, in fact.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:12:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been there a half dozen times... (10+ / 0-)

    ...over the years and would have been many more had I lived closer.

    As for the Navajo Long Walk and this "Carleton’s plan for the Navajo’s new settlement was based on staunch idealism..."

    Like so many we-know-what's-best-for-the-red-man "idealists," this one failed largely because nobody decided to ask the people directly affected what they wanted.

    And like other similar plans, this one's "idealism" included shrinking the extent of Navajoland so that Manifest Destiny could make itself felt and some non-Indians could have a place to ranch and mine and otherwise occupy somebody else's property. Unlike Indians affected by other similar plans through American history, the Navajo managed to keep a huge chunk of their original territory.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:39:24 AM PST

    •  now that you mention it. . . (5+ / 0-)

      I wish you and I had collaborated on this piece, because your views on staunch idealism match my own. I think Hampton Sides' tome given a plug in this diary is worth reading and will reveal more aggressive treatment and usurpation of Western territory wrested from Native Americans and Hispanics, and what I believe began with President Polk's administration. Certainly, Kearny's Army of the West presence was a turning tide of force to be reckoned with. And don't get me started on Carlton and what I think of this madman general. So, good on the Navajos for rejecting that Long Walk nonsense. Anyway, Expansionism promulgated under the banner of Manifest Destiny. . .I think we have a shameful history in so many respects and I am glad people today have been waking up to this fact and making better (read "fairer") changes. Thanks for posting an interesting commentary, Meteor Blades. I'm tempted to write a diary without all the niceties and get a bit more gravely as it were.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:07:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a good thing we didn't know about uranium (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, RiveroftheWest

      back then...

      Sometimes I can't believe it; I'm movin' past the feelin'...

      by Leftcandid on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 12:07:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your diaries are wonderful. Thanks, richholtzin! (4+ / 0-)

    ... Do you know about the list view of your diaries?

    Any Profile page > Diaries > list.

    From any DK Profile page, click Diaries, and then click the word "list" next to the word "Diaries."

    Remember, dear Kossacks, it is never too late to Recommend a diary.

    •  too much . . . (4+ / 0-)

      I mean, what I nice thing for a diarist to read. Very much appreciate this, 2thanks. I didn't know about this list you embedded, but now I do. I just write 'em and hope I am answering all the commentaries, even remembering to go way back on previous diaries that folks might comment on. Don't you think, though, the safest thing to do is to contact me through my profile's email, when posting comments on the more ancient diaries, so that I don't miss responding to same? I'm thinking. Anyway, I really do enjoy replying to any and all comments people are gracious enough to leave. Again, thank you for your expressed kindness in this regard. I am flattered.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 12:20:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are very welcome, richholtzin (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greengemini, RiveroftheWest

        The comment period is 24 hours for a diary, so people are not able to comment in your old diaries.

        Diaries can be Recommended forever or a long time.

        I thought you could use the link at the end of your diary to help inexperienced readers and Kossacks find the treasury of your previous diaries.

        You could possibly replace this paragraph:

        FYI: For a list of all diaries posted to date, please see the growing inventory by clicking on my profile. There are many “next” buttons to click in order to view the numerous titles. If commenting on an older diary, please send me an email to my profile account. That way I am sure to notice it and respond. Gracias.
        ... with the link.

        ... you can also view the database of your diaries' Recs, Comments, and Hot-Listeds. The Views column used to display, but they disabled that feature.

  •  beautiful - and tempting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, RiveroftheWest, Leftcandid

    but do I want to bring tourist money into Arizona?  Semi serious question here...

    I had not heard of any of this area until Tony Hillerman's whodunnits opened my eyes, and have since met many people who enthuse about the walking here.  

    Help! I can't afford the trip!

    •  Interesting dilemma. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your point about "do you want to bring tourist money into Airyzony?!!!?" Well, I'd say for the sake of the Navajo Nation, hell yes. They are exceptional in so many ways and they have built a tourism enterprise unlike no other. Support them! Forget the typical Arizona politics. I have. I used to be with a sheriff's department, among other silly stuff I've done, and I hate the racial profiling. Hence, the reason I moved back to New Mexico and will likely draw my last breath here. Some day. Meanwhile, and speaking of Tony H., when I lived in the North Valley many years ago (Los Ranchos), particularly in the Guadalupe Trail vicinity (off Rio Grande Blvd.), he used to walk the streets in my neighborhood (his girlfriend lived nearby) and we had a few talks about his novels, which, embarrassed to say, I had never read a single one. Knowing what I did for a living, he told me I would enjoy reading those stories, since Jim Chee (is that the detective's name?) and his beat was also my beat. So, he recommended two books I should at least read ("Skin Walkers" and "Thieves of Time" I think they were). I did, in fact, purchase both. But durnit, I have still not read them. A I said, embarrassing. Anyway, maybe the community will help crowd source some money for you to come and visit. If you do, I'll work you up a freebie itinerary and get your tour laid out. I used to do that sort of thing when I was an ecotourism operator. Thanks for posting one of the more unusual comments I've ever had. And fun.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 01:55:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beautiful, Rich -- thank you! (1+ / 0-)
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    Fine history and all the descriptions make you want to start packing. Lovely photos too; isn't it funny that even with all the gorgeous color photos, the one that makes me feel I could just walk right into it is Ansel Adams' black and white one?

    •  your remarks. . . (1+ / 0-)
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      about A. Adams. . .that's exactly as I feel about the old masters and true, realistic photography. . .his black and white photos added the color to the imagination. Thank you for noticing something similar given your assumed appreciation, RiveroftheWest. I revere such photography and hold that color duplication is merely that. . .duplication. That's why these are the old masters and all the digital innovation since does not hold a candle. My opinion, of course. Perhaps even yours.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:37:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I find myself appreciating (0+ / 0-)

        more and more the work of those pioneer photographers. And WORK it was -- no point 'n' shoot back then.

        Somehow they capture such incredible depth, clarity and feeling along with the image itself. Perhaps the amount of preparation required for each shot simply made them more focused (oops!) and brought out their perfectionist tendencies.

        Great stuff!

  •  Canyon de Chelly (1+ / 0-)
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    This landscape looks magnificent and I love the sandstone. A few years ago PBS made films of "Skin Walkers" and "A Thief of Time." I really enjoyed them but also have not read Hillerman's books. I must go and see this glorious area and thank you for the tips about the guided tours and special places to see. I am happy the Navajo have kept these lands in their ownership, even though the NPS is involved. When you talk about "the long walk" it reminds me of my father telling me that his grandparents were on the "Trail of Tears" when the Cherokee were driven from their homeland. Last year I took a class "North American Indians" and learned so much more about the crimes committed against Native Americans. It was really horrible and shameful. I hope to be able to experience this mysterious place this Spring and your diaries have made me even more determined to see it. I have only seen a very small part of the Southwest and there is so much to see! Lucky are those who have been able to go many times. You always see something new each time you visit.

    •  ironic, those films. . . (1+ / 0-)
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      because many years ago when I met Tony H. in my neighborhood (when I lived in Los Ranchos), he was surprised to hear I never read any of his books! And surprised because of the field work I did covering that beat where the two famous detectives (one's name was Jim Chee, if memory serves) did their thing. So, he recommended reading those exact same books. I never have but I do have them in my library. Still I saw both PBS specials and I understood why Tony recommended them. Anyway, I part Cherokee and realize the value of tribe's Trail of Tears, just as I know the shame of the Long Walk. That book, Hampton Sides', featured in the diary, is highly recommended reading, wynative, and I know you're going to love reading it. Very informative given all the cultures represented, and of course a very excellent source on Kit Carson. Anyway, thanks for posting, and you'll enjoy de Chelly and it's lovely sandstone features when you get here one of these days. It's just one of those places yo want to see firsthand and experience its majestic setting.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:35:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice post. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    CdC is a great place to visit.

    I was really impressed with the rock art dating back to the Spanish visit--couldn't be anything else with those men on horseback, the lances, and the distinctive Spanish helmets.

    Mrs. Wheeldog and I visited there a few years ago and did the jeep tour into the canyon. The tour operators are Navajo and, other than a limited hiking trail from the canyon rim, it's the only way to get into the canyon legally, since it's part of the Navajo Rez.

    For those contemplating doing it, here's a word of advice: Do the jeep tour with the single guide, not the group tour. It's a bit more expensive but way better.

    With the individual guide you're inside the vehicle (so limited to the guide and 3 persons max). The group tours stick the folks on hard wooden benches in the back of a big truck--looked like old Army surplus 4x6s to me.

    With the jeep tour you can talk to the guide as you go; with the group tours you bounce along the road for a while (they call it the shake and bake tour), then the truck stops, everyone dismounts, a guide gets out of the cab, talks for a bit, then everyone mounts up again and its off to the next stop.

    When we got back from our jeep tour there were folks getting off the group truck tour and paying all over again to do the jeep tour.

    An aside: Navajo guides are knowledgeable but there is that strong cultural predisposition to limit conversation, especially with strangers, that can leave a sense of distance between you and your guide. About halfway through our tour, Mrs. Wheeldog reached into her daypack and hauled out the bag of her homemade chocolate chip cookies and shared them; she also shared them with the other guides at the stops we were making. Communication opened up like you wouldn't believe! Our guide turned out to be very personable, had that sly sense of humor that the Navajo have, and told ended up telling us about his ambition (and work toward) to be a traditional Navajo singer, the one who performs the healing and other ceremonies. Very interesting and nothing we would have learned without the cookies.

    Another aside: Kit Carson is still universally hated by the Navajo; mentioning his name brings an interesting result., especially when you're on the CdC tour. They also still don't care much for the Utes.          

    When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

    by wheeldog on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 09:47:32 AM PDT

    •  wish that you could. . . (1+ / 0-)
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      or write a diary on what you just commented on, wheeldog. It's factual, fun, and helpful to those who do come here and are interested in taking a tour. I also strongly suggest doing same, because tourism adds a huge amount of money to the tribal coffers, as well as keeps guides employed. Of course, you're right about riding in the back of those big green trucks, but this is the economic and traditional way some people prefer, so they know they're in for a bouncy ride with little or no report coming from the front of the truck. Or folks should. The personal tours are much better. I suggest also taking a one-day horseback tour, and I think it's still possible to do an overnighter (but only escorted by a tribal member). Given Kit Carson's role in this sticky affair, I think Hampton Sides's work, "Blood and Thunder," pretty much explains where Kit stood on the matter. Actually, if there's a son of a bitch in this matter it's General Careton. . .not Kit. I think we need more open minds given his part in the matter. He never enjoyed doing what he did and never bragged about it. He even admitted he was fortunate to have found the chasm, since the terrain is deceptive given how Canyon de Chelly is not visible until one is close to either rim. Anyway, you are also right about the Navajos and how they can open up to people who become, well, less touristy, and more personal. I have worked or played with these people for something like 40 years and I can attest they have a raucous and delightful sense of humor. In fact, I think tomorrow I am going to post a smaller diary (well, for me, smaller) about this sort of thing and extrapolated from a larger piece I wrote on Monument Valley. As always, thanks for posting your informative commentary.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:34:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Monument Valley... (1+ / 0-)
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        A long, long time ago when I was working as a reporter on a newspaper outside Phoenix I interviewed the Gouldings, the husband and wife who started the Goulding Trading Post in Monument Valley. They had retired and either sold their trading post (I think there's one in Sedona also) or turned it over to their kids/grandkids to run.

        They had lots of stories, including ones about all the Hollywood folks who had been there to shoot movies...John Ford's 'Stagecoach' sticks in my mind.

        One of the stories I liked goes to that Navajo sense of humor. They referred to the tour buses full of tourists as 'watermelons' because the folks sitting inside looking out the windows looked like seeds lined up inside a watermelon.  

        When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

        by wheeldog on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:46:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  now I am certain. . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, bartcopfan

          with your background and stories , wheeldog, you must entertain and share with the rest of us what you know. And I'll be the first to recommend whatever we're given to read. As always, thank you for your comments and I am happy to say I have never been a watermelon!

          P. S. I will have to wait for about a week before I can share the Monument Valley and Navajo story (a true account) with you and the rest of the DKos community. I just looked at it and it's a rather convoluted and lengthy piece and that means I will downsize it (though have no time to edit, as usual) what I think the community will tolerate in the way of a diary. I assure you the second part is a rather jocular story and one that got me into the Navajo tribal heart. . .while at the expense of dissing the Hollyweird film crews.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:55:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I never noticed this. (1+ / 0-)
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      Navajo guides are knowledgeable but there is that strong cultural predisposition to limit conversation, especially with strangers, that can leave a sense of distance between you and your guide.
      I had a Navajo roommate in college for a semester, and never noticed this "cultural predisposition."  Must have been lucky, I guess; he was a nice guy.

      Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

      by JDsg on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 03:34:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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