"Sacred Tseyi" Canyon de Chelly National Monument by goodfish
Canyon de Chelly National Monument Travel Guide: 103 reviews and 338 photos
2012: time to update these pages with higher-res photos and new links...
Canyon de Chelly has been home to 5 periods of Native American culture for nearly 5000 years: the longest uninterrupted period of occupation anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. First settled by hunter/gatherers (Archaic) from 2500 - 200 BC, it was home to (successively) Basketmaker, Ancestoral Puebloan, Hopi and Diné (Navajo for "The People") communities over the next several millenia with the Diné still living there today.
This place is called Tseyi (pronounced "say-yee") by the Navajo and means "In the rock." Several misspellings and mispronunciations by, first, Spanish and then American settlers resulted in the name most of us know it by: Canyon de Chelly (da-shay).
Unlike some of the other archeological sites in the southwest, Canyon de Chelly is still very much a living community and to the Diné and Hopi people, an ancient and holy part of their culture so specific guidelines apply for respectful exploration. It is good to remember that aside from the fragility of historic ruins, this is a sacred religious site and resting place for both cultures and their ancestors.
It is also the site of several horrific massacres of their people. In 1805 a raid by Spanish troops ended in the deaths of 115 Diné - including women, children and elderly - who had fled for cover in a cave on the North Rim. In 1864, Colonial Kit Carson's forces killed or captured Navajo living in the canyon, destroyed their homes, fields and livestock, and marched the survivors 300 miles to Fort Sumner in New Mexico. Many perished during that journey and many more during four years of captivity before being allowed to return home. It is difficult to believe that such a beautiful, peaceful place could have witnessed such sadness.
The picture above is of Spider Rock. Navajo legend has it that this is the home of Spider Woman, who first wove the map of the night sky and the Universe and who passed the art of weaving to The People.
- Pros:Beautiful, under-appreciated canyon with a long, fascinating history
- In a nutshell:Highly recommended
I found the overlook trails a little too confining in a few spots so went wandering off - being careful of any ... more travel advice
As mentioned on my main page, Canyon de Chelly is a bit of an anomaly as it’s on land owned by the Diné so the NPS and... more travel advice
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