Our West Coast Adventures during 2013 travel blog

Our next adventure was Canyon De Chelly National Monument, near Chinle Arizona. The monument, established in 1931, consists of tribal trust land held by the Navajo Nation. Many native families still live within the canyon, where they raise sheep and grow crops — apricots, plums, peaches, cherries, watermelon, squash, corn and beans. Some families supplement their income by selling jewelry and other handcrafted items to tourists. There are two major canyons in the monument: Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “d’shay,” from the Navajo word tseyi, meaning “place within the rock”), and Canyon del Muerto (“Canyon of the Dead”). Each one has many smaller branches. Although Navajos have lived in and around the canyon for centuries, they are relative newcomers to the region. Archaeological evidence indicates that people have lived in Canyon de Chelly for thousands of years. Ancestral Puebloans —– predecessors of Hopi, Zuni and other pueblo cultures — built the White House, Mummy Cave and other elaborate stone villages nestled in the canyon walls. They abandoned those communities after a prolonged drought in the 13th century, long before Europeans reached the continent.

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