Archive for navajo national monument

Keet Steel

Posted in Hopi with tags , , , on January 14, 2010 by brettvanort

The hike to Keet Steel took around 2 hours each way.  My NPS guide was Hopi and we talked about my dealings with the tribe, whether I would get access, who I was working with, etc.  He seemed to know everyone and said my project made sense to him but the elders would take their time and I would have to go through a lot of paperwork.

So in the meantime here I was where my guide told me his ancestors were from.  He explained that the construction of these pueblos were not as simple as drying mud bricks and finding the enclosure.  The timber used was hauled in from over 100 or 200 miles away.  Doesn’t sound like a lot for today’s standards?  Consider that the people of that time period had NO PACK ANIMALS.  Horses, mules, cows, all came over via the Europeans.  Buffalo were obviously not domesticated and rarely visited the area anyway.  Deer were the largest animals along with mountain lions and cougars.

The timbers used in construction of the pueblos were not endemic to the area.

While we were in the natural enclosure of the cliff dwelling, the skies opened up with rain.  He explained that after someone from Hopi passes on they return in the form of clouds.  The rain was a gift from all those that had lived before him, his ancestors, to him, his family, his clan and everyone else in Hopi.  Water is such a precious thing to the Hopi, almost sacred.  And tomorrow I’ll show how others outside of Hopi treat that sacred resource.


Little Colorado

Posted in Hopi with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by brettvanort

During my long wait for the tribal elders to go over my project proposal I visited the region north of Hopi.  This includes Black Mesa, where the coal mine is, and just across from that Navajo National Monument where several ruins of Hopi ancestors are built into the cliffs.  The Parks Service and the Navajo that live in the area calls the inhabitants of these ruins Anazasi or Puebloan peoples.  I had a Hopi guide from the park service take me to some of the ruins and he explained to me that the people that lived here were his ancestors and the Hopi people’s ancestors.  They were not Anasazi, a term that was developed to lump all puebloan living peoples in the Four Corners Region of the United States at the time.

On our hike we descended into a small tributary of the Little Colorado River.  What I would call a small stream, would be fed by seepage from the sandstone canyon that surrounds the area.  But the people in this area would rely on this river or stream as it would feed and produce all of their agriculture and they would have to use it for hydration, washing and cleaning as well.  I still couldn’t get over the fact that people in such an arid climate could exist without a plentiful water supply.  The reasons why water was so sacred to these people became more and more clear with every day that I spent in the region.

There was actual running water to be seen.

In the photograph above you can see a small ledge of earth to the left of the river bank.  My guide told me that was a highly appropriate spot for corn to be harvested and planted.  It would have more than adequate water throughout the planting season.  What I found astonishing is that these highly strategic areas that were appropriate for planting were incredibly small and therefore the crop yields had to be fairly low.  If you also take into account the size of the Hopi corn stalk, which yielded smaller, tougher ears of corn, it was hard to imagine a substantial population living in the region.

Tomorrow, the cliff dwellings.

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