by Anura Guruge
Click IMAGES to ENLARGE.
2015: Navajos permitted to sell on the pavement &
sell art featuring the local stone from the Canyon.
One of the paintings on stone shown above —
which we bought.
Notice the thickness of the stone.
Other example of paintings on stone.
The persecution of the Navajo at Canyon de Chelly by U.S. government authorities, now in the form of the National Park Service, is still happening — on an accelerating basis.
They are getting pushed around. The Navajo Nation is not doing much to protect them. They do not have the skills, experience & the resources to take on the Park Service. Plus, they are petrified of harassment at the personal-level. Being barred from access to the Canyon — chief among them.
It is true that they are no longer being shot, made to undergo ‘Long Walks’ or have their children forcefully send to Christian boarding schools. But, nonetheless, the persecution is cruel and hurtful.
Between our visit in April 2015 and our recent trip at the end of July, THREE very specific attacks have take place.
- Navajos can no longer display their wares for sale to the tourists on the ground or on tables. Their displayed good have to be on a parked vehicle. So, if they have a truck they can use the tailgate. Many do NOT have trucks. So, they put towels on the hood and trunk of their cars and display their wares that way.
- Navajos can no longer sell any art featuring stone from the Canyon. They have to use purchased slate.
- The Park Service is threatening to stop them living in the National Monument part of the Canyon.
This persecution in inane and very distressing.
In the end this is THEIR land. What is left of all the land that used to be theirs by right.
Having them sell their art and jewelry from the ground or tables did NO harm. They did NOT get in the way. This is not the Grand Canyon or Yosemite. The car parks are rarely packed. Plus the Navajos provide a VALUABLE service — since you will never find or see a Park Ranger on the Rims. The Navajos acts as FREE guides and narrators.
As for the stone … What can you say. Yes, I agree that nobody should be allowed to chisel any new stone from the Canyon. But, there are tons of stone lying around. And here is where it gets crazy and very frustrating. There are NO such restrictions re. stone at ‘Monument Valley‘ and that is Navajo land too. Difference, NO Park Service.
They say they want to build a pavilion in which the Navajo can sell their wares. They have one of those at ‘Monument Valley’. It is EMPTY!
Monument Valley. The EMPTY shops in the ‘pavillion’.
Search ‘Chelly’ & ‘Navajo’.
by Anura Guruge