Monday, June 11, 2012

Canyon de Chelly Camping Weekend

(A very long blog post, with lots of photos. Take your time and enjoy...)

The 2012 Navajo Oral History project group camped in Canyon de Chelly on the weekend of June 8-9-10, 2012.  Canyon de Chelly is a U.S. National Monument completely within the Navajo Nation.  It contains many Anasazi ruins and thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs on rock walls.  Navajo families have lived-- and farmed-- in the canyon for centuries.  Non-Navajos are only allowed in the canyon with a Navajo guide.

(Tunnel Trail. Photo by Emily Gust)

(Above two photos of Cnayon de Chelly by Liam Krause)

The 2012 NOH group camped with the Lettie and Flemen Nave family at their sheep camp site that is at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto, both of which are part of the National Monument area.

Lettie's family has lived on the land for many generations -- since before Kit Carson and the U.S. Army killed their livestock and burned their crops in 1864 in an effort to force Navajos onto The Long Walk to Fort Sumner (Bosque Redondo), New Mexico.  After four years in exile, the treaty of 1868 was signed and the surviving Navajos were allowed to return to their ancestral homeland.  During this time some Navajos had hid out in the canyons and rock walls and welcomed their relatives home.

For the students who are part of the Navajo Oral History project, it was a fun and educational weekend.  The group hiked into the canyon with Thomas Litson (Lettie Nave's nephew) as their guide.  They hiked from the Tunnel Trail trailhead, dropped 200 feet in elevation, and hiked about 4 miles to the junction and the Nave camp.

(Above two photos by Sammi Luhmann)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(photo by Kelsey Foss)

(photo by Emily Gust)

(photo by Sammi Luhmann)

(photo by Laura McCormick)

(Thomas Litson, Lettie Nave's nephew, was the hiking tour guide. Photo by Elena Lavorato.)


(Above three photos of the box canyon by Kelsey Foss)

(Above three photos of ruins in Canyon de Chelly by Elena Lavorato)

(above three photos by Kelly Kusilek)

(above two photos by Laura McCormick)

(Shawn, Eli, Shannon and Kelly. Photo by Joel Farber)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(above two photos by Liam Krause)

The group then set-up tents or picked out spots in the Nave family hogan for sleeping.

A few members of the group helped with chores, like chopping firewood until the leader broke the axe.

(above three photos by Kelsey Foss)

Lettie's daughter, Becky is a great cook and prepared Navajo Tacos and watermelon for dinner, with the students making their own fry bread.  There's a bit of art to getting the fry bread dough thin enough and round, and then gently slipping it into the cooking oil.

(above three photos by Shannon Bolte)


Navajo Tacos for dinner:

After dinner, lots of relaxation and conversation occurred, and some star-gazing until late.


(A photo of Lettie Nave's Grandfather. Photo by Elena Lavorato.)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek) 

(Flemen Nave. Photo by Laura McCormick)

(Sammi Luhmann with Britches. Photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(Lettie Nave cultural demonstration. Photo by Laura McCormick)

(above three photos by Kelsey Foss)
(photo by Sammi Luhmann)

(Sammi Luhmann and Kelly Kusilek jump. Photo by Elisenda Xifra Reverter)

(Dog Rock at the Nave's camp. Photo by Liam Krause)

(Group Photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(The Nave's Hogan in Canyon de Chelly, with Dog Rock behind. Photo by Elena Lavorato.)


(Joel and Liam slept in a cave in the rock wall above the Nave's camp.)

Saturday morning included delicious breakfast burritos and an aggressive hike 300+ feet up Yei Trail, and across 3.5 miles of the canyon rim, then back down Antelope House trail and a break for lunch and viewing of the ancient ruins and rock art.

(photo by Liam Krause)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(photo by Sammi Luhmann)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(above three photos by Liam Krause)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(photo by Liam Krause)

(photo by Joel Farber)

(photo by Kelly Kusilek)

(photo by Sammi Luhmann)

Tired, but happy, the Yei Trail hiking group made it to Antelope House ruins and enjoyed lunch.

The students also looked over the wares of local vendors, including Native American Flute player Travis Terry.

A lazy afternoon was followed by some cultural learning session from Lettie and Flemen Nave.


Lettie taught the group The Stick Game, and had them all scoring the game using the Navajo words for the numbers.

(Lettie Nave explains The Stick Game)

(Kelly won the game and won a turquoise bracelet)

(Kelly and Liam showing off the first and second prizes in the The Stick Game.)

Everyone was hungry when Becky presented a great dinner of stew with tortillas and fry bread and fruit salad.

Most of the group hung around a camp fire until late, then got a good night's sleep.

(above two photos by Laura McCormick)

For Sunday's breakfast, Flemen Nave cooked up blue corn pancakes, which were served with sausage.

After breakfast, the group broke camp gave lots of goodbyes and hugs to the Naves, and prepared to hike out of the canyon via the White House Ruins trail, which includes about a 600 foot gain in elevation.

(photo by Elisenda Xifra Reverter)

Back at the dorms at Diné College, everyone showered and napped.  Eli Xifra, a WSU student who is from Spain, made a wonderful Spanish dinner for all to share -- with help from Sammi Luhmann.

(photo by Stefani Schmidt)

After dinner, everyone enjoyed cake and ice cream in honor of Shannon Bolte's 22nd birthday.
 (above two photos by Stefani Schmidt)

The weekend is over, and now it's back to work for the documentary journalism teams.  On Monday, the students will go back to visit their Navajo elders and conduct their second interviews.

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