Welcome to the Great Southwest
Many cultural and linguistic Native American groups made, and still make, the deserts of the American Southwest their home. More than 20 percent of Native Americans in the United States live in the Southwest, principally in Arizona and New Mexico where there are many different Indian cultures including Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and Apache.
We begin our journey in Sedona, named the #1 most beautiful place in America by USA Today’s Weekend Annual Travel Report.
"The area's telegenic canyons, wind-shaped buttes and dramatic sandstone towers embody the rugged character of the West -- and the central place that character holds in our national identity. There's a timelessness about these ancient rocks that fires the imagination of all who encounter them. Some 11,000 years before film cameras discovered Sedona, American Indians settled the area. Homesteaders, artists and, most recently, new thought pioneers have followed.
"Many cultures and agendas abound, but there's really only one attraction: the sheer, exuberant beauty of the place. People come for inspiration and renewal, tawny cliffs rising from the buff desert floor, wind singing through box canyons, and sunsets that seem to cause the ancient buttes and spires to glow from within. We hear the canyon's call and cannot resist."
Early Native Americans considered the Red Rocks sacred and traveled from afar to perform ceremonies among the sublime formations as we will be doing during our sojourn. Only the bravest chiefs and medicine people were allowed in to what was considered to be home to the gods. Cathedral Rock was honored as the birthplace of the first man and woman. Here we will see the first woman and man standing back to back in the formation.
The native story related to Cathedral Rock tells us that the first man and woman argued all day and all night. She said that he never helped out around the cave and that he would never listen to her. He complained that she nagged at him all day long and never seemed to appreciate the game he hunted. When they finally appealed to the gods for a solution they were placed back to back, but together, so they would each retain their own vision and direction.
Boynton Canyon is the most popular of the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness canyons and is undeniably beautiful. It is dominated by high sandstone cliffs once inhabited by the Sinagua, and remains of their ancient dwellings are still concealed in the cliff walls.
The Grand Canyon is more than a great chasm carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of the turbulent Colorado River. This canyon is a gift that transcends what we experience. Its beauty and size humble us. Its timelessness provokes a comparison to our short existence. In its vast spaces we find solace from our hectic lives.
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and one of our planet's most astounding accomplishments. The sheer majesty and beauty of the scenery found here is beyond belief. Its powerful and inspiring landscape overwhelms our senses through its immense size of 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.
The oldest human artifacts found are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. There has been continuous use and occupation of the park since that time. Archeological remains from the following culture groups are found in Grand Canyon National Park: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Basketmaker, Ancestral Puebloan (Kayenta and Virgin branches), Cohonina, Cerbat, Pai, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Euro-American.
Grand Canyon National Park contains incredibly diverse architectural remains from the past. Centuries old, prehistoric Native American architectural sites include pueblos, cliff dwellings, granaries, agricultural and water control features, and ancient trail systems. More recent Native American architectural sites in the park include wikiups, hogans, and sweat lodges.
Some of the most facinating artifacts found in the Grand Canyon are split-twig figurines. Each one is made from a single twig, often willow, split down the middle, and then carefully folded into animal shapes. These figurines date from 2,000 to 4,000 years ago and were found in remote caves. While their exact function remains a mystery, recent research suggests that split-twig figurines were totems associated with the Late Archaic hunting and gathering culture. Their occurrence in remote, relatively inaccessible uninhabited caves indicates that these figurines were not toys. They are usually found under rock cairns, indicating careful placement.
The symbols pictured here are taken from a petroglyph on a rock at Hopiland. This inscription is the visual notes originally inscribed by Masawu, The Great Spirit of the Fourth World. It was accompanied by an explanation given at that time in order to instruct the Hopi people and all people who could understand the message it contains.
This Prophecy represents a vast body of knowledge that used to take several days to tell.
In 1946 an event described in the prophecy occurred and sent the elders to a task never before attempted. After ten intense days, each clan had revealed its version of the knowledge to the other clans. They then synthesized and edited what had been heard into a three hour oral delivery of the information in both Hopi and English languages. They designated four men with the responsibility to commit it to memory and recite it to whoever asked. Grandfather David Monongye , Kimmey’s teacher, was the last living of those elders.
The Life Plan speaks of two distinctly incompatible ways of life being lived towards the end of the cycle known as the Fourth World. The lower horizontal line represents the True Path of Life given by the Creator at the time of human creation. It is in harmony with all life on Earth and if sustained, all life would flourish. It is known as the One Hearted Path. The upper line, is the path of the “two Hearts”. It represents the improper application of our free wills to accomplish foolish and self destructive ends. The final zig zag represent the fall of that way. It cannot enter the Fifth World where harmony and balance will reign.
The vertical line joining the two paths is this critical time when the two hearteds who realize they are on the wrong path can join together and return to the True Path of Life. This is the mission of all who have discovered the power of Spirit at this crucial time.
The entire Prophecy delivery will be conducted by John Kimmey at the Prophecy Rock on Oraibi Mesa, where The Fourth World all began.
CANYON DE CHELLY
Past and present are interwoven in Canyon de Chelly and we will pass hogans, sweat lodges and sheep as well as explore the vast richness of the many ancient ruins nestled in the canyon walls that are dotted with innumerable cliff dwellings.
Canyon de Chelly is located in the center of the Diné (Navajo) reservation. The Diné/Navajo are the largest Indian tribe in North America. Their homeland covers 25,000 square miles, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
The Diné people have their creation stories, the famous Spider Rock or Spider Woman stories. Some of these stories can only be told during the winter season when bears, spiders, lightning, ants, and snakes are asleep. The Diné are abundant with their rich culture and language and their native language is still spoken and recently has been written. They are now known for their skills in rug weaving and silversmithing.
There are over 2,700 archaeological sites within the many canyons of Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Only 13 of the 700 standing ruins have been stabilized, re-inforced, or protected from degradation.
The 1,700-foot eroded volcanic plume is sacred to the Navajos as Tsé Bit' A'í, or the Rock with Wings. This name comes from an ancient folk myth that tells how the rock was once a great bird that transported the ancestral people of the Navajos to their lands in what is now northwestern New Mexico. The Navajo ancestors had crossed a narrow sea far to the northwest (the Bering Strait?) and were fleeing from a warlike tribe. Tribal shamans prayed to the Great Spirit for help. Suddenly the ground rose from beneath their feet to become an enormous bird. For an entire day and night the bird flew south, finally settling at sundown where Shiprock now stands. Geologists tell us the rock was formed 12 million years ago during the Pliocene. The legend of the rock seems more likely to be a metaphor hinting of the site's magical power to lift the human soul above the problems of daily existence into an awareness of the Great Spirit. From ancient times to the more recent past, Tsé Bit' A'í was indeed a pilgrimage place of major importance, the destination of young men engaged in the rigors of solitary vision quests.
Our journey is timed perfectly to be able to participate in the 99th annual Shiprock Navajo Fair, the oldest and most traditional of the Navajo Fairs. During the fall in Navajo Land, the Navajo people of the Four Corners come to celebrate the year's harvest with this community celebration. The event includes exhibits, rodeo, pow-wow, traditional song & dance, parade and carnival. The main attraction is the Ye'ii Bi Chei ceremony, an ancient Navajo healing ceremony conducted for the first time of the year anywhere on the Navajo Nation. The public is welcome to view parts of the ceremony during the fair. The famous "Yei" rugs, depicting the Yei deities, have traditionally been woven in the Shiprock area.
Chaco stairs and doors and the great kiva in the plaza of Pueblo Bonito
For all the wild beauty of Chaco Canyon's high-desert landscape, its long winters, short growing seasons, and marginal rainfall create an unlikely place for a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture to take root and flourish. Yet this valley was the center of a thriving culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its community social organization, and its far-reaching commerce created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since.
Chaco Canyon National Historic Park is located near the geographic center of the San Juan Basin region of northwestern New Mexico and the adjacent four-corner states. In addition to a number of characteristic “Chacoan greathouse” sites, there are nearly 4,000 recorded archaeological sites within the park.
Santa Fe is one of the world's most distinctive cities. A place of varied cultures, diverse traditions and natural beauty that has welcomed travelers for centuries. Santa Fe's site was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates from between 1050 to 1150. The Plaza, the heart of old Santa Fe, hasn’t changed much since the Spanish settled here 400 years ago.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Flowers in a Santa Fe plaza; a 350-year-old adobe house; design elements by Trey Jordan; diners at Trattoria Nostrani; the Trattoria Nostrani wine cellar; part of the College of Santa Fe building designed by Ricardo Legorreta.
Photographs by Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Santa Fe , which means Holy Faith in Spanish, is a world-renowned travel destination unparalleled in richness of history, heritage, arts and culture. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the foothills of the Rockies, Santa Fe experiences an average of 325 days of sunshine and blue sky.
National Geographic's 48 Hours in Santa Fe photographic slide show.
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