In the Ancestors’ Footsteps: Ancient and Abandoned

Canyon de Chelly (Chelly is pronounced as “Shay”) is located in Northeastern Arizona, USA. A long, dusty hike down into the Canyon rewards the adventurer with the view of these ancient cliff dwellings, the White House Ruins.

White House Ruins

White House Ruins

While the cliff dwellings are abandoned and fenced off, the Canyon itself is still home to about 40 Navajo families. Canyon de Chelly is one of the longest continuously inhabited areas in North America. The earliest tribes living here were the Ancient Pueblo, or Anasazi people, and the Navajo (or Dine) who still own this area.

From the White House Ruins, you can hire a Navajo guide to explore this mysterious place by horseback or on the back of a truck. The Navajos know where to find these ancient writings, some of them carved banner-like across enormous cliff walls, others hidden in nooks and crannies of the rocks.

Ancient writings

Ancient writings

Does anyone still know how to read these pictographs? Were they meant to reach us so many centuries past the time they were created?

White figures on red rock

White figures on red rock

Mysterious cliff drawings

Mysterious cliff drawings

Our Navajo host told us that noone knows anymore how to read these writings. I found myself thinking, if I was Navajo and if I knew the messages these walls contained, would I tell any outsiders?

This is a picture of an ancient storage container high up on a rock ledge. It kept food stuff cool and protected.

Storage container

Storage container

At the bottom of the ledge, I found these pot sherds.

Potshards

Potshards

They felt very old, as if they had been there for a long time. When I told our Navajo host about these broken pieces, she said that it is bad luck to pick them up and take them away. No Navajo will touch them as they belong to the realm of the ancestors. I made sure I only took a picture.

This post was created in response to Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Ancient and the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned.

About Beauty Along the Road

My name is Annette. I am passionate about nature, health, simplicity, self-reliance, truth, and life-long learning. Originally from Germany, I now live in Virginia, USA. I am a therapist, health coach, writer, photographer, and organic gardener.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Travel Canyon de Chelly, Travel Theme Challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to In the Ancestors’ Footsteps: Ancient and Abandoned

  1. Bastet says:

    Wonderful post, makes me dream and speculate! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. cindy knoke says:

    gorgeous….i was there when i was fourteen……spent a long time on the canyon floor exploring on our own. this brought back great memories~

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  5. Great post which I found really interesting. MM 🍀

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  7. For a long time I’ve been curious about Canyon de Chelly. Thank you for your exquisite images and your mindfulness in narrating the unfolding story behind the seen and the “unknown”.

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    • It’s a deeply spiritual place. There will be a women’s poetry writing retreat at the bottom of the Canyon, with both Anglo and Navajo facilitators in the latter part of May this year. If you are interested, I can e-mail you the flyer. I hope you get a chance to visit sometime.

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  10. Good shots, Annette!

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  11. Barneysday says:

    Wonderful shots, as usual from your eye. I am always amazed at these ancient indian cultures, and how really advanced they were, and how carelessly we’ve tossed them aside. After visiting such sites, I often think that it was our culture that were the savages.

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful shots.

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    • Sadly, I must agree with you, Barney. And yet it is a pleasure to see the Navajo culture being revived and nurtured (language, traditions, rituals) by key tribal people. Visiting this Canyon is one way to experience a part of this renaissance.

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  13. Tina Schell says:

    Fascinating and something I’ve never heard of. Thanks for sharing, great post and perfect choice for the challenge!

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  14. A ;lovely post – wonderful images and colors!

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  15. Very beautiful and informative. Makes me want to go to Arizona!

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  19. Oh my gosh! These pictures are amazing. This is one of my favorite places in the world. Humbling, mysterious, and sacred. Beautiful post, Annette.

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  20. Have you been to the Canyon? If you have, you’d know just what kind of a pull this place has. I am thrilled to go back there this year and can’t wait….this will be my third time.

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  21. Beautiful pictures.

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  22. vannillarock says:

    i love canyon de chelly! have been a couple of times but not ventured onto the floor, definitely next time! great shots.

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