Canyon de Chelly

Nice travel piece by Ron Dungan about Canyon de Chelly (“shay”). mjh

Navajos nurture traditions in remote Canyon de Chelly by Ron Dungan, The Arizona Republic

CHINLE – The days grow warm. The nights lose their chill edge. A young man in baggy pants walks the streets of this Navajo Reservation town, slow and cocky, shirttail out, eyes forward. You see this angry look in the big city, but it looks out of place in such a small town. I drive down the road, pull over and stare into a place where the Earth falls away sharply.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is named for one canyon but contains several. The canyons have a history that reaches back centuries, and you can see this history in a glance as you look out over the edge. Anasazi cliff dwellings, Navajo farms, Anglo tourists riding in Jeeps along the creek bottom, all blending in a cultural and historical web.

Stories tie these worlds together. Stories of migrations and corn, bloodshed, promises broken and forgotten, stories written on stone and paper and passed on over generations.