Chinlé, Canyon de Chelley, & Clouds

Thanksgiving among The Diné

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A mix of oddly appropriate and also intrusive, I spent the Thanksgiving holiday driving through the Navajo country of Arizona.  It was expansive, dramatic, thought-provoking, sad, and inspiring.

On the one hand, the tribe still inhabits a vast amount of land throughout the Southwest, and it is in fact the largest of the tribal lands established in the US.  Therefore there are grandiose landscapes with nothing but scattered scrubs and distant mesas, not a house or creature to the eye for what seems hundreds of miles.  You are taken back to how the land was for The People before the pioneers “settled” here…….and then on the other hand, the harsh fact that it was swiftly and painfully taken away.

The melancholy nature of visiting the tribes is the harsh reality of what has been stripped from them.  There is no escaping it, nor really any value in dwelling on it.  It is the reality of today.  I find perhaps the best way to honor the history, the plants, the creatures, and most importantly the people and the land is to simply know it is there and preserves it the best we can.  To thank the Navajo and support them in keeping their traditions which so worship the beauty of this land alive.  Let us visit when we can, and tell others of the wonder that continues to exist here.

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The Dine are The People here, and this Thanksgiving I am but a humbled and thankful visitor.

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