Seems ages since I last blogged, but it’s only a few days.
From Moab we drove more long distances, crossing and re crossing the borders of Utah, Arizona and Colorado where they all meet, on what is a huge area (17,000,000 acres) of Navajo reservation land.
When they were originally forced to leave their lands – The Long Walk – many perished on the journey from illness, cold or starvation, and they were initially given 3,000,000 acres, not enough to sustain them. They became sheep farmers to provide meat and clothing for their people, then the government ordered them to drastically reduce their flock numbers because of over- grazing, and many more perished. It took many years and a lot of negotiation before they were granted the land they have today.
In many areas, including the one we stayed, there is no alcohol permitted – a ruling by the Indians.
We stopped at Mesa Verde NP, where there are well-preserved cliff dwellings, made from sandstone blocks carved from the cliffs. Built in the 600-700s, they are usually situated under overhanging cliffs, with only one way of access – very strategically positioned. The one we saw was in such good condition when discovered, only about 10% needed any restoration.
From there we drove to Monument Valley, through occasional heavy rain, to Goulding’s Lodge, where many crews from MNY Western movies stayed, including John Wayne, who loved it there. With rooms looking out over plains with huge rock formations rising up out of the mist. If you were a fan of Westerns, there would be many familiar scenes there for you.
We were to have a Navajo style cookout for dinner that night but, because of the dodgy weather, we had it indoors instead. A local Indian, Henry (he doesn’t have a Navajo name, as he was taken as a young child and sent to boarding school, where they were forbidden to speak their own language, talk about their culture and traditions or where Navajo clothes – sound familiar?) told us a bit about his life then and now. Many Indians live and work in the larger towns in the area, but many live in small towns on the reservation, using wind generators or solar panels for their power supply. Some still choose to live in isolated little valleys, with no water supply and some with no power. Unemployment is a huge problem.