~ Navajo Reservation ~

The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty, the largest Indian Reservation in the country. The Navajo Reservation is home to more than a dozen national monuments, tribal parks and historical sites, and is peppered with a dozen lakes and ponds - Lake Powell alone has 186 miles of Navajoland shoreline.

Din� Bik�yah, or Navajoland, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America. This vast land is so unique because the people here have achieved something quite rare: the ability of an indigenous people to blend both traditional and modern ways of life. The Navajo Nation truly is a nation within a nation.

Navajo Bridge

I entered the Navajo Reservation by way of the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River at Marble Canyon.

Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center

Colorado River and Marble Canyon form the Navajo Bridge

I called this Cathedral Rock

The old Navajo Bridge

The Colorado was not muddy this far up stream

Visitor Center

Above is Square Butte from both directions. What a difference the sun makes.

Above left and below is Navajo Mountain
The Navajo Mountain region has special cultural significance to the Navajo people, who know it as Naatsis���n ("Earth Head" or "Pollen Mountain"). Navajo Mountain figures prominently as the first settlement area in western Navajo origin stories.
Square Butte again

Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument preserves three intact cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people. The Ancestral Puebloan people farmed the canyons, enabling them to flourish in this high desert environment. They hunted wild game and grew corn, beans, and squash. Descendants of the Hopi people who built these places are called Hisatsinom. They lived here for thousands of years. Trade with other cultures brought seeds of corn and other crops into the region. Hisatsinom lifeways changed from nomadic hunting-and-gathering to farming. They began to build multi-storied stone masonry houses clustered in villages in Tsegi/Lenaytupqa (Flute) Canyon, and Nitsin Canyon. These buildings are called pueblos. The site in the photos below is the Tsegi Canyon Pueblo.
The Zuni have lived in the southwest for thousands of years; their home is now in New Mexico. They consider the Tsegi/Lenaytupqa Canyon region an essential part of their traditions. To the Hopi it is known as the "northern canyons," from which several of their clans originated. The Zuni traveled through this area on their way to Grand Canyon to mine salt.
Later, San Juan Southern Paiute, famous for their baskets, moved into this area and lived near the cliff dwellings. Today, this place is surrounded by the Navajo Nation, as it has been for hundreds of years.
The Monument was designated in 1916.

There really is a maze of canyons here

Dinosaur footprint

Navajo Sandstone

Sweat lodge

A hogan, from Navajo hooghan, is the primary traditional home of the Navajo people. The hogan is considered sacred to those who practice the Navajo religion. The religious song "The Blessingway" describes the first hogan as being built by Coyote with help from beavers to be a house for First Man, First Woman, and Talking God. The Beaver People gave Coyote logs and instructions on how to build the first hogan, now known as a "forked stick." The "forked stick" or "male" Hogan contains a vestibule in the front and was used only for sacred or private ceremonies. Today, while some older hogans are still used as dwellings and others are maintained for ceremonial purposes, new hogans are rarely intended as family dwellings.
In one form or another, the sweat bath pervaded cultures from the Alaskan Eskimo south into the land of the Mayans. The purpose, in most cases, went beyond getting the body clean. The sweat bath provided a cure for illness, revitalization for aching muscles, spiritual well-being and a sense of racial identity. A Navajo who fought in World War II once stated he came back for a sweat bath "to rid himself of evil accumulated during war."

Tslegi Canyon Pueblo

Monument Valley

Navajos weren't the first inhabitants of the land. Ice-Age Paleo-Indian hunters roamed the Monument Valley area thousands of years earlier, followed by archaic hunter gatherers. Evidence of Anasazi in Monument Valley is still visible through their sites and ruins dating before 1300 A.D.

These horses and some cattle were grazing along the highway

The rains were following me, but didn't catch me

Back to Utah

I officially left the Navajo Reservation once I crossed the San Juan River (below), but these landmarks are so close and interesting, I included them on this page.

Mexican Hat Rock is a landmark in southeastern Utah just outside the town of Mexican Hat. The story is that the town founders had difficulty spelling Sombrero, so they used the English term. They must have been distant cousins to the founders of Chicken, Alaska.

A perfect background for a photo

The Navajo Twins Rock Formation
The Navaho Twins or Monster Slayer Twins were prominent figures in the Navajo Creation Story. The Twins slew the evil monsters and allowed humanity to develop.

Music is "Black Cherry Moon"

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