Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 7 - Monument Valley and Four Corners

On Sunday, June 12, 2011, the Navajo Oral History project students from Winona State University took part of the day off from their work to enjoy some of the sights and beauty of the Navajo Nation.

Three of the students got up early and went along with me (Prof. Tom Grier) to a Catholic Mass in the Navajo language at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament church in Fort Defiance, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation. Robbie Christiano, Alyssa Reimers, Michael Ruka and I felt welcome in the small but friendly church. We tried to sing the songs and say the prayers in Navajo.

The priest greeted us at the door as we arrived, then mentioned our Winona State group when he made his opening announcements. After church, we stayed for donuts, coffee and punch in the church hall and talked to several parishoners. One woman came up to talk with us because she heard we were from Minnesota. She grew up in New Prague, Minn., which is where Alyssa is from! When Alyssa talked to her mom later, it was determined that Alyssa's grandfather surely knew the woman we met.

About noon, we all climbed in the van and drove to the northeastern corner of the Navajo Nation to the Four Corners Monument; the only place in the United States where four states (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona) come together in one point. We took some of the obligatory "I'm in four states at once" photos, and a group shot, and then visited all the vendor booths.

Then it was on to Monument Valley for a great meal, stunning vistas and lots of photos.

(photo by Dave Dvorak)

(photo by Alex Fisher)

(above four photos by Alex Fisher)

(above four photos by Dave Dvorak)

("Mexican Hat" rock formation photo by Dave Dvorak)

By the time we got back to the dorm at Diné College, we had spent 9.5 hours in the van and drove nearly 500 miles in one day.

(above three photos by Dave Dvorak)

As always, it was another great day on the Navajo Nation. The students are having fun, and taking their journalism responsibility seriously. They're all working on their videos, audio and photos tonight, as well as researching facts about their elders and preparing for tomorrow's second interviews.