Navajos to Mark Chaco Canyon Centennial

Cibola County Beacon – News
Navajos to mark Chaco Canyon Centennial, By Diane Fowler, Beacon staff writer

CHACO CANYON – The Navajos of northwest New Mexico will observe the centennial anniversary of Chaco Canyon National Heritage Park Saturday by reminding the Dine of their historical place in that mystic canyon.

The gathering is not connected to the park or the National Park Service in any way, according to a spokeswoman for the event. She asked to remain anonymous, but was willing to share some of the details of the observance.

“We will focus on the history of the Navajo people in Chaco Canyon. It’s not a part of our history that is emphasized, but our people were forced to leave Chaco Canyon 100 years ago when it was made a national park,” she said.

“We lost our land and it was a tragic time for us,” she added.

The spokeswoman observed that currently most people think of Chaco Canyon as a national park and not as a place where people live, “The Navajo people still exist in the Chaco Canyon area,” she remarked.

The observance will include an address by San Juan County Commissioner Irving Chavez in support of the local community. Navajo Nation Vice-President Ben Shelly and other tribal leaders will also speak.

Tribal elders, who are familiar with the history of the canyon, will make a special appearance, along with Miss Indian Farmington. Traditional singing will provide entertainment and a potluck dinner will be served.

The event will be held on tribal land rather than the actual park site. Everyone is welcome to attend.

From highway 550, take county road 7800 to state route 57, then take a left on county road 7980 and look for a large tent.

The observance will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007.

[hat tip to walkingraven]