Saturday, June 5, 2010

Canyon de Chelly

So, I'm going to cheat a little bit. This post really doesn't have anything to do about me being a TRT, but it DOES have to do with me traveling to a new National Park. I did tell the Ranger in the Visitor Center today that I was a TRT last summer....does that count?

I'm fortunate enough to be participating in the We the People: The Navajo Nation Experience, sponsored by the Center for Civic Ed. We are in Chinle, Arizona exploring the Navajo Nation and issues of sovereignty and the US Constitution. I'm so excited and grateful to be here. There are educators and We the People folks from almost all 50 states...and what a neat group! Did you know that the Navajo Nation here is as large as the state of West Virginia! Wow! It took us four hours to get from the Albuquerque, NM airport to Chinle.

This morning we had a morning of learning about the Navajo Nation, comparing and contrasting the Navajo Bill of Rights and the US Bill of Rights, and examining the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the 1978 Supreme Court Decision (written by Thurgood Marshall) pertaining to the ICRA od 1968. We also watched a movie about the Navajo Long Walk (like the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee).

After lunch we took jeeps into Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

The Park protects and preserves the ancient cliff dwellings.

The Navajos lease their land from the government but are allowed to live on the land and in the Canyon.

I first learned about the Canyon when I was researching historical fiction books for my 8th graders. One of the books that they may choose to read is "Sing Down the Moon" by Scott O'Dell which is about the Navajo Long Walk and partially takes place in Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay).

The drive was AMAZING!!! We saw pictographs (colored ancient cliff drawings) and petroglyphs (not colored ancient cliff drawings), ancient dwellings, and talked with people who live down there.

In order to go into the Canyon you have to go with a guide. We learned that the guides are Navajos who live on the land. In fact, we saw our guide's property and house. We were allowed to take pictures of anything except private property and people on their residences.

We finished our four hour drive with dinner at Thunderbird Lodge in the Canyon....actually, not at the lodge, but an outdoor picnic. We had Navajo Frybread with taco toppings....delish!

Tonight we're off to the North Rim for a sunset look at the Canyon. Can't wait! It's been awesome. I even got the official NPS Cancellation stamp and a bonus stamp they had!

Tomorrow? I may need to write again as we head into Monument Valley! :)


Lauren said...

didn't realize you'd be so close! how long will you be in our neck of the woods? what a cool experience!!