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Four Corners Road Trip: Canyon de Chelly
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We spent an afternoon exploring the Canyon de Chelly's geology and cliff-side Indian ruins The Junction Overlook into the canyon walls and floor, 700 feet down.<br><i>From the National Park Service:<br>
'The name De Chelly is a Spanish corruption of the Navajo word 'Tsegi', which means roughly 'rock canyon'. The Spanish pronunciation 'day shay-yee' has gradually changed through English usage, and the name is now pronounced 'd'SHAY'.<br>
The streams of this region flow during the rainy seasons and during the spring runoff of mountain snows; at other times they are dry. Sandstones, chiefly the De Chelly Formation of Permian age, laid down more than 200 million years ago, compose the canyon walls. The reddish hue of the cliffs varies in intensity with the time of day.</i> Signs say to watch your kids and pets along the ledge since there are no railings. I was watching Matt, but it did no good, he still walked over to the edge. He looks a little leery, though, doesn't he? A pine cone rests against the red rock of the canyon A winter blanket softly covers wispy grasses clinging to life on the rocks The White House Ruin as seen from the top of the canyon. A 2-1/2 mile  trail leads down into the canyon where visitors can get a closer look. A closer look at the White House Ruins. Wonder if the last occupant was Chief Flaming Bush. Matt and I took the winding trail down the rock face The trail tunnels through rocks at a couple of places. Here Matt strides towards one of the tunnels. Navajo still live and farm on the canyon floor. The hogan is a popular abode. Matt has a hard time following directions, kinda like his dad. 'These are strange times indeed,' Matt told me, 'when I can walk on water' ... and in Arizona no less. Matt eschewed the footbridge to walk across a canyon river. The soaring red canyon walls tower above the cliff-side and floor dwellings. While in the canyon, we bought a petroglyph from a modern day Navajo artist. I asked him how he etched the figures on the stone, and he pulled a long menacing knife out of his pocket. I was glad he was smiling as he showed it to me. The White House from the base of the cliff Matt and I wondered how old some of the canyon petroglyphs were ... these are fairly new, I'm thinkin' The Antelope House Ruin on the north rim.<br><i>From the National Park Service:<br>
In the canyons are ruins of several hundred prehistoric Indian villages, most of them built between A.D. 350 and 1300. The earliest known Indian occupants constructed individual, circular pithouses, so called because the lower parts of the dwellings were pits dug into the ground. The style of their houses gradually changed through the years until finally they were no longer living in pithouses but were building rectangular houses of stone masonry above the ground which were connected together in compact villages. These changes basically altered life; and, because of the new 'apartment house' style of their homes, the canyon dwellers after 700 are called Pueblos. Pueblo is the Spanish word for village, and it refers to the compact village life of these later people. Most of the large cliff houses in these canyons were built between 1100 and 1300, in the Pueblo period.</i> A closer look at the Antelope House pueblo community.<br><i>From the National Park Service:<br>
During the 1200's, a prolonged drought parched what is now the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. About 1300, the drought, and perhaps other causes, forced the people of Canyon de Chelly and other nearby Pueblo centers to abandon their homes and scatter to other parts of the Southwest. Some of the present-day Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico are descendants of these pre-Columbian people. The canyons continued to be occupied sporadically by the early Hopi Indians of Arizona, also related to these Pueblo people. The Hopi were probably here only during the times when they were growing and harvesting crops. About 1700 the Navajo Indians, who were then concentrated in northern New Mexico, began to occupy Canyon de Chelly. An aggressive people related culturally and linguistically to the various Apache Indians in the Southwest, they raided for a century and a half the Pueblo Indian villages and Spanish settlements along the Rio Grande Valley. These attacks inspired the successive governments of New Mexico (Spanish, Mexican, and American) to make reprisals, and Canyon de Chelly became one of the chief Navajo strongholds.</i> The most impressive ruin is the Mummy Cave Ruin, in which Indian mummies were found (I don't know what happened to the daddies).<br>
<i>From the National Park Service:<br>
Today, many Navajos still farm in a limited way, but sheep herding, which they acquired from the Spaniards in the 1700's, is declining among them. Their distinctive circular houses of logs and poles are called hogans. Matt shows off this impressive find The scope of the pueblo is impressive As is the architecture dating back between 300-1300 A.D. The snow was pretty, but the bitter cold was bone chilling. Cold enough, apparently, to freeze the town's water pipes, because we had no running water the next morning in the hotel The Yucca Cave Ruin in Canyon del Muerto.<br><i>From the National Park Service:<br>
In 1805 a Spanish punitive expedition under Lt. Antonio Narbona, who later became governor of the Province of New Mexico, fought an all-day battle with a band of Navajos fortified in a rock shelter in Canyon del Muerto. Narbona's official report to the Governor stated that 115 Navajos were killed, including 90 warriors. Because of this, the rock shelter is called Massacre Cave.</i> A closer look at the Yucca Cave Ruin The distant rock formations near Canyon de Chelly at sunset were a presage to the rocks of Monument Valley we'd see the next day

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