by Donald M.
I took off sometime to drive around the Southwest and experience American as far away from culture of NYC as I could without leaving the USA. There are a few places you can still go discover another way of life in the America and the Southwest is one of them.
As I drove into Chinle, Arizona from the north on route 191, my first sight was a cow walking on the shoulder of the road toward the Burger King. Ok, it still America and we watch the same TV shows and see the same commercials, but where can you see a cow just walking down the road.
This is part of Navajo nation that is very finically poor, culturally rich and have the same social problems as we all have. I stayed at the Thunderbird Lodge near the entrance to Canyon de Chelly (d’SHAY) and signed up for the full day tour with a group a strangers, who were looking for the same insight as I was. By the end of the day we all knew each other and the canyon as best as you can in a few hours of riding around in the back of a four wheel jeep. The history of Canyon de Chelly spans the people of the Anasazi (Puebloans), Hopi, Navajo (Dine), Spanish and the US military. In 1931 President Herbert Hoover authorized Canyon de Chelly National Monument to preserve the archeological resources that span more than 4,000 years of human occupation. Navajo families still inhabit and cultivate the valley floor and the only people that are authorized provider tours in Canyon. You may not enter the Canyon without a permit and without a Navajo guide. I highly recommend touring the Canyon de Chelly and the other National Parks and Monuments of the Southwest to learn about us, the people of American.
For an Anglo’s insight of Chinle, Arizona and Native Americans that live in and around Canyon de Chelly, I strongly recommend reading “Into the Canyon: Seven Years in Navajo Country” by Lucy Moore. I hope this may increase you interest and that you may look into a vacation touring the southwest.