DeSantis Photo | Talkin' Story

Talkin' Story

November 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

A place the Indian called TSEYI'
Canyon deChelly National Monument, Arizona

"The monument encompasses approximately 84,000 acres of lands located entirely on the Navajo Nation. Millions of years of land uplifts and stream cutting created the colorful sheer cliff walls." "Descendants of the Puebloans"(the word Anasazi, I was told is an insult to Indian), "the Hopi, migrated to the canyons planting fields of corn and orchards of peaches. Although the Hopi left to permanently settle on the mesa tops to the west, the Hopi still hold on to many of their traditions that are evident from their homes and kivas."
From <>


So off I went to Canyon deChelly. A place that I had visited many years ago seemed magical then.

After a long, steep, switchback trail to the bottom I trekked down with an Indian woman who was going to sell pottery her husband made and jewelry she had made.

Ok, I'm good with that, but I was disappointed in any case seeing Indian selling jewelry and jeep tours through the canyon. It all began to smell like tourist as I got to the canyon floor. Not that magical feeling at all. I had been there in '74 or '75 and we could walk around the ruins, 'on' the ruins even. We hadn't even come into the canyon on the same trail, we had made our own way.

The ruins were surrounded by chain link fence, a 'keep off' and 'out' situation. I got as close as I could and took these shots. Some in real infrared film that I will have to develop at the end of the trip. Gawd, I wish I had a travelling, portable darkroom.

As I scrutinized the 6 or 8 tables of Indian wares, I mentioned to one of the men behind the table about the fence and then proceeded to tell him my story of climbing the ruins years ago and how we got down into the canyon. An elder came over and we talked about how much the undergrowth had thrived in all those years. He remembered and told me the drought they were having caused most things from growing anymore in the canyon. I spoke of how disappointed I was with the fence. He smiled about how the fence was there to keep me out. As I was leaving we laughed when he called after me that as soon as I leave they would take the fence away.

I took what photos I could and made my way back up the canyon. Lots of huffing and puffing. Late in the day, as seems my usual, I was in need of a tent site. I drove to an Indian's privately owned campground.

No one around save a friendly dog who came up to me and smelled my leg. (That could mean any number of things, really), I didn't understand how to pay for the site, but the dog sat there by my side. So I asked the dog to show me a good spot to camp. she got up and waited for me to get back in the car. Strange as it was she wanted me to follow her. We passed a couple good sites, but then she walked into a campsite and sat down. I got the hint and set up camp. She watched then walked off.

After I had set up, Granville came in on his 650 and asked me what was up with camping and paying for a site. I told him to just find a space and settle-in. He couldn't seem to do that and proceeded to talk my ears off. The guy could talk. He said he heard about the campground from way up north and said he was going to wait for Howard. Just then an old dusty pick-up drove in stirring up the dust. Guess who? Howard. The old Indian laughed at his new found notoriety and explained rates and where to wash-up and get water, etc.

I told Granville I didn't have enough dinner for both of us but told him to come back after he set up and have a drink with me. I could hardly get a word in edgewise. Not a whole lot of important stuff: He had been a surfer in Hawaii, talked sports (my least favorite subject - ever) and how his real job years were few and was hardly surviving off his social security. We were getting colder by the minute so we said good night and parted ways.

Granville, the big 'G', cool talkative guy and Howard sweet man with very 'Indian' behavior, low key and very tuned into the world around him.

And the dog? She kept an eye on things and traveled throughout the campground checking in on all the campers.

And sorry no photos of Howard or Granville or the dog. Witness protection program and all.



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