A Navajo Tale: Canyon de Chelly is home to stone-age history By LAURIE KAVENAUGH – Style Editor
The Thunderbird Lodge is the only motel within Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Navajo people own and operate the Thunderbird, its cafeteria and gift shop. The quaint adobe buildings spread out at the mouth of the canyon among cottonwoods planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The complex sits just about where the first trading post was established in the 1880s. It was followed by a succession of trading post operators until the government hired a custodian in 1903 to keep an eye on the cliff dwellings down in the canyon.
By the end of the 19th century, tourists were paying to visit the dozens of cliff-house ruins left behind by the Anasazi, a Navajo word for “ancient enemies.” In the 20th century, archaeologists found evidence the canyon was probably a technology center for weaving. Today, the Navajo and the National Park Service work together to maintain the canyon. …
Canyon de Chelly is one of the few Anasazi sites in the Southwest that is still lived in by the Navajo. Although the Navajo arrived fairly late on the scene — sometime in the mid-to-late 1700s — they have had a rough time holding onto what they consider an ancestral home.