Note: I was recently featured on a blog with a picture of Window Rock and a link to my site. FishHawk Droppings was the website. I love this kind of recognition. I thought another story or maybe even the same story I published on my other blog might be in order. I hope you enjoy.
Canyon de Chelly
Who are you?
Why are you here?
they both asked.
Why, Thank you! said he.
Navajo Nation, New Mexico
(four corners region)
East facing hogan.
My husband worked with a man that taught on the Navajo Nation, Chinle, Arizona in the 1970’s. He had moved with his wife to Eastern Oregon to teach. He found a landscape was very similiar to Arizona…dry/cold, hot, windy and lower middle classed. He had learned a lot when he was there…he had seen the dire and drastic effects of European culture on a people used to living on the land, surviving on their crops and wits. The ever present hogan always faced the rising sun.
We passed through the self same spot almost 30 years later. The landscape is some of the most beautiful in the world. Window Rock is the capital of this sovereign nation situated at the corner of four states; Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.
We were in Window Rock on a Sunday and the market in the town square featured jewelry salesmen, odds and ends from a $1 store, clothing, yard sale items, and a pick up truck filled with loaves of bread. When you enter the Navajo Nation you need to check in with the tribal authorities before you venture out onto the reservation. We did not think much about it because it was Sunday and the office was closed. As we wandered out into the market, we both felt very much at home. We have visits markets around the world and love the experience. I stopped first at a jewelry booth set up roughly on the fringes of the area. The silver jewelry was beautiful and I bought a pendant. Then I wandered on stopping on the far side of the market at another booth.
That was when a woman faced me and looked in my eyes, “Where are you from and why are you here?” she asked. I was startled but not put off. Is was a question and no more. I told her we were in Window Rock to see the Window Rock landmark and could she tell me how to go there. We had a short and pleasant conversation after which my husband and I headed back toward our car.
The old man sat on the back of his pickup and when I stopped to look at his bread he said, “Where are you from and why are you here?” This time I smiled. “I came to see you.” was my reply. His eyes lit up and he said in all sincerity “WHY THANK YOU”.
I have replayed his response in my mind so many times in the last few months. The charm of the response and the conversation that followed about his pueblo situated near Albuquerque, NM and a tram that takes you to the sky. My heart just aches with the simplicity and wonder of such nice people that have managed to remain unspoiled by us.
Canyon de Chelly
We drove to Chinle, AZ that day with a loaf of bread between us. I had had summer squash soup and Navajo bread for lunch. I was hungry and so was my husband. It was in Chinle where we found the Indian Agency school, a correction facility and a look of desolateness. It was just the same as my husband’s teaching friend had described it. Granted it was fall and very cool . The trees were bear and dust blew across the road. It was not the season of growing. But still…
Canyon de Chelly awaited us that evening at sunset and we took many pictures. We had a wonderful motel room and a restaurant was close by. Families were gathered on the Sunday evening along with a tour group of climbers or four wheelers. The outsiders are still leaving their mark. And the Navajo people (Dine’) remain as they always have, quiet and beautiful.