Raise your hand if you know Canyon de Chelly. Almost no one we know has any idea what it is or where it is, but we think it’s a worthy travel destination to consider. Canyon de Chelly (d’Shay) is a National Monument located within the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The closest town is Chinle. The Basketweaver people occupied the canyon five thousand years ago. Since then, Ancestral Puebloan people (formerly called Anasazi), Hopi, and Navajo have lived in the canyon.
There is only one hiking trail in the National Monument. It drops down into the canyon to view the White House Ruins. The only other way to get down into the canyon itself is by jeep or horseback, led by a Navajo guide. We chose the 4-hour jeep tour with our friends, Carolyn and Robert.
Our guide, Don, mentioned that we could make a detour to a weaver who lived in the intersecting Canyon del Muerto. Katherine Paymella greeted us and escorted us into her hogan for a demonstration of the steps to make a finished woven piece. She raised her own sheep and used the wool for her weaving.
If you are wondering, yes, we wanted to buy the small piece in the middle of the photo. So did our friends. Who would get it? Fortunately, there was another rug, similar to the one we’d all chosen. We each paid for a rug and then “flipped a coin.” Carolyn and Robert won. Ah, the memories and stories we will be able to tell about our Navajo-woven rug!
We had one more demonstration in the canyon and this involved handmade arrows and a cottonwood-carved atlatl (spear-thrower).
We thought a four-hour tour would be quite long enough to see the sites in Canyon de Chelly, but maybe we should have taken a longer tour? There was just so much to see.