Our next stop was Canyon de Chelly. An interesting name for a Navajo and ancient pueblo people.... The name Chelly (or Chelley) is a Spanish borrowing of the Navajo word Tséyiʼ, which means "canyon" (literally "inside the rock" < tsé "rock" + -tsé "inside of, within"). The Spanish pronunciation of de Chelly was adapted into English, apparently through modelling after a French-like spelling pronunciation and is now pronounced d SHAY.
Some interesting information about Canyon de Chelly: Canyon de Chelly National Monument was authorized in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover in large measure to preserve the important archeological resources that span more than 4,000 years of human occupation. The monument encompasses approximately 84,000 acres of lands located entirely on the Navajo Nation with roughly 40 families residing within the park boundaries.
I had originally planned on taking a Navajo tour into the canyon on horseback and by jeep. Unfortunately when we got there we were told the Canyon was flooding and there were not allowing any trips in. I tried to be cheerful about it and telling myself that "oh well, it just means I need to take another trip back", but it was still very disappointing that mother nature chose to keep me out of the canyon.
We made the best of it and toured all along the upper rim. I was still able to get some beautiful shots but it still left me craving more.
The following are shots of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto, the beautiful rock, canyons and the mysterious cliff dwellings.
If you look carefully in the following photo you will see pictographs of deer and other animals in the canyon wall (this is taken from the other side of the canyon and I don't exactly have the most powerful lens :)) click to bigify....
I typically don't take pics of hogans, not considered proper without the owners consent...but I figured this one wasn't occupied.
One of the locations we visited was Massacre Cave Overlook. It received it name from the following event......On a snowy day early in January of 1805, one of the Navajo villages suffered a surprise attack by Spanish Lieutenant Antonio Narbona and his military expedition deep in Canyon Del Muerto. Most of the men were away hunting in the Lukachukai Mountains. When the old men and women spotted the raiding party, they fled in the snow and took refuge in what is now known as Massacre Cave, high up in the 1000 ft canyon wall and inaccessible from above. The Spaniards located them from the rim and there are still marks on the walls of the cave left by ricocheting rifle bullets. Some of the Spaniards made the hard climb up from below. In one of the hand to hand battles which followed, a brave Navajo woman pushed a Spanish soldier backwards off the ledge and fell with him to their death on the rocks below. The Navajo because of this call this site The Place Where Two Fell Off.
Spider Rock was the last stop on the South Rim drive and one of the views I had looked forward to the most.
The Navajo believe that the tallest of the two spires that rise 800 feet over the floor of the canyon is home to Spider Woman. Spider woman is an extremely important deity to the Navajo people. Here is her story:
"Spider Woman possessed supernatural power at the time of creation, when Dine (Navajo) emerged from the third world into this fourth world.
At that time, monsters roamed the land and killed many people. Since Spider Woman loved the people, she gave power for Monster- Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water to search for the Sun-God who was their father. When they found him, Sun-God showed them how to destroy all the monsters on land and in the water.
Because she preserved their people, Dine (Navajo) established Spider Woman among their most important and honoured Deities.
She chose the top of Spider Rock for her home. It was Spider Woman who taught Dine (Navajo) ancestors of long ago the art of weaving upon a loom. She told them, "My husband, Spider Man, constructed the weaving loom making the cross poles of sky and earth cords to support the structure; the warp sticks of sun rays, lengthwise to cross the woof; the healds of rock crystal and sheet lightning, to maintain original condition of fibres. For the batten, he chose a sun halo to seal joints, and for the comb he chose a white shell to clean strands in a combing manner." Through many generations, the Dine (Navajo) have always been accomplished weavers.
From their elders, Dine (Navajo) children heard warnings that if they did not behave themselves, Spider Woman would let down her web- ladder and carry them up to her home and devour them!
As we left Spider Rock night was beginning to fall and I took a couple of last minute shots on the trail back to the car.....
The next morning we hit the last two overlooks that we had missed before heading to Winslow for our next nights stay. It always amazes me how life can find a foothold in what would seem to be an impossible place....
A cholla cactus along the trail.....
This next pic is of a wonderful Navajo young man, Pat Tsosie. He, his wife, their baby and her family were all at one of the overlooks. Up until then we had managed to not spend any money and just admire all the handiwork we'd seen on our trip.....I'm not sure if Guerdon or I gave in first but we returned to our car with a pot and four pictograph and petroglyphs done on sandstone from the canyon. :) We were told the story behind each of the designs and how it affected the Navajo people. We learned that the money that he and his wife made from their artwork bought the gas that got them back and forth to college. Their family spent the summers at their home in the floor of the canyon and winters up above. The conversation with Pat and Guerdon started when Pat noticed Guerdon's sunglasses..."Hey, are those Oakleys?" Guerdon told him yes, and Pat said his wife had bought him a pair for Christmas and he loved them. He brought Guerdon over to his truck so he could show them to him and they talked for awhile on the benefits of a good pair of sunglasses. Before we left Pat asked if I would take a picture of him and mail him a copy, my pleasure. :)