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Canyons of the Heart
3: Tangled waters

Driving on to Canyon de Chelley, the wind grew dark with red dust. Where the paved road was intersected by an unpaved side road, a shaft of blown sand showered the side of the car as we passed. The landscape gave little hint of the extensive canyon complex nearby, a secret that could easily remain undiscovered. Canyon de Chelley was beautiful and tranquil in its green depth, but we on the rocky rim were windblown, sandblasted. We could see the ruins of pueblo homes that were built under the overhanging red rock cliffs.

I knew from reading of this canyon that in another alcove, a mummified body was found, wrapped in golden eagle feathers. These are only clues to the vibrant culture that flourished here under these spectacular rock walls. The people lived in the rock, used it for shelter and protection, fashioned tools and weapons with it, and ground their grain with rock. This canyon is a sacred place to them, and the only way to tour the canyon ruins is with an Indian guide.

We stopped by a gas station and bought some tamales from a Native American man selling them from his pickup truck in the parking lot. His face was rugged as the rock walls of the canyon. His tamales were delicious and spicy. This land is part of the present day Navajo nation. We passed little farms or ranches, sometimes with a small house or mobile home, but always with the traditional structure, the Hogan, six sided with the doorway facing the sunrise. The Navajo have their own law, including a ban on alcohol. It is illegal here. This is a nation within a nation.

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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