Saturday, April 12, 2008

Navajo Nation: Canyon de Chelly

The Dine say that Canyon de Chelly is the center of Navajo Nation. Unfortunately, it does not legally belong to them, but to the US Park Service. We gathered in a forested area just outside the canyon, listened to speakers talk about the canyon, and ate.

Afterwards, we piled onto several pick-up trucks that drove us across the shallow river. One of them got stuck. Once in the canyon, the walkers sang The Longest Song--a song they sing at every community they stop at, each time adding a new verse. The verse here was: "Dine Nation is where we are, Canyon de Chelly is their home."

I found myself in tears again in the Canyon. Somehow the overwhelming magnificence of the canyon mixed with some of the residual grief I was feeling about Denise's suicide, as well as the power, sorrow and the beauty of the Navajo people, and I was caught in one of those painfully aware moments of the exquisite contradictions of this thing we call life.

I had to leave the circle of singing and stand by myself for awhile, next to the river. Behind me I heard someone say, " That's Mother Earth, crying through her."


l.d.guinchard said...

Which Dine say Canyon de Chelly is the center?
The Northern Navajo claim the Center to be the Shiprock.

Lisa Gale Garrigues said...

Hello l.d.--

Thanks for visiting my blog. When I was with the Longest Walk 2 in Canyon de Chelly, the Dineh people who greeted us there referred to the Canyon as the center or heart of the Navajo Nation. Since I am not Dineh, I don't know if there is a difference of opinion between them and other Navajo who live near Shiprock.

Window Rock, as I understand it, is the governmental center of the Navajo Nation.