Monday, June 3, 2013

Shiprock - Four Corners - Monument Valley

It was an extremely long day in the vans today (Sunday, June 2) for the 2013 Navajo Oral History project, but fun the whole way.

The group left the Diné College campus in Tsaile, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation in the morning and drove over the Chuska Mountains through Buffalo Pass between Lukachukai, Arizona, and Shiprock, New Mexico.

They stopped to take photos of the Shiprock land formation which was formed by a volcanic eruption about 25 million years ago. The rock itself is impressive at more than 1,500 feet tall. Equally impressive are several volcanic tails that extend out from the main rock.

Adam Maciejczak and Whitney Harlos

Brett Gustafson

Madison Duncan

Nik Strand

(above photo by Brett Gustafson)

(above photo by Skylar Ogren)

The group then headed northwest from the town of Shiprock to the only place in the United States where four states meet at one point. That spot, which is also on the border between the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain reservation, is a neat tourist attraction where visitors can have their photo taken touching four states at once.

The visit to the Four Corners Monument area began with shopping at the many arts and crafts booths and reading the interpretive signs.

Darin Strohmenger

Brett Gustafson

Danielle Wieczorek and Jolene Kuisle

Danielle Wieczorek and Nik Strand

Laura Humes

Robbie Christiano and Whitney Harlos

Skylar Ogren

With two vans full of Mass Communication students, the pressure was on to find creative ways of expressing oneself while taking a photo in the spot that millions have stood in before you. You be the judge: the NOH 2013 group did very well in the creativity department.

Adam Maciejczak

Cara Mannino

Cara Mannino and Elise Nelson

Elise Nelson

Brett Gustafson

Danielle Wieczorek

Darin Strohmenger did a breakdancing spin on the Four Corners spot.

Jolene Kuisle

Laura Humes performed a cartwheel.

Madison Duncan

Nik Strand and Cara Mannino

Shiloh Gulbranson

Shiloh Gulbranson, Laura Humes and Whitney Harlos

Skylar Ogren specifically placed himself in the Colorado quadrant because he and his wife are moving to Colorado shortly after he completes this summer travel class. 

Then, Skylar decided to try a somersault.

Tom Hays

The group got into the vans again for a drive through Monument Valley, which is on the Navajo Nation. This is the spot where many films have been made over the decades, including a very famous scene in the movie "Forest Gump." The vans stopped at that spot to look over a very long, straight road into the distance with Monument Valley rock formations in the background.

Darin Strohmenger got on top of the van for a panoramic photo.

(above photo by Darin Strohmenger)

(above photo by Skylar Ogren)

Adam Maciejczak

Cara Mannino

(above two photos by some kind passer-by)

Here's a couple scenery photos by Skylar Ogren on the way to Monument Valley Tribal Park.

The San Juan River near Mexican Hat, Arizona, serves as the northern border of the Navajo Nation.
 (above two photos by Skylar Ogren)

Then, it was on to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park to see the famous "Mitten" formations and take more photos.

 (above three photos by Skylar Ogren)

Madison Duncan takes a photo of Elise Nelson.

Adam Maciejczak and Whitney Harlos

Cara Mannino

Danielle Wieczorek

Jolene Kuisle

Madison Duncan and Jolene Kuisle

Tom Grier and Robbie Christiano

Madison Duncan

(above five photos by Brett Gustafson)

Danielle Wieczorek

(above two photos by Darin Strohmenger)

On the way back to campus, the group stopped in Kayenta, Arizona, for dinner at a Sonic restaurant, then made it back to Tsaile for an early evening filled with many naps.
The class gets back to work on their documentary journalism pieces in class on Monday and Tuesday mornings, and will spend afternoons making editing decisions, then writing scripts and recording narrations for their films about Navajo elders.

Then -- and most don't want these words uttered at this time -- the group will head to the Albuquerque airport on Wednesday for their return trip to the Midwest and to finish the class by meeting with classmates via ITV next week.

It has been a great trip so far. This year, the fifth of the Navajo Oral History project, has been amazing. The students are very motivated to do great journalism projects. They are all getting along well. Sure, there have been some disagreements and personality clashes along the way. Such occurrences are minimal and infrequent.

In the Navajo way, the students are trying hard to start and end each day in balance and harmony with themselves, with others and with nature.

For those back home: don't be surprised if you sense a change in these young people when they return to you. They have all grown in a number of ways during this journey. To be sure, their journalism skills have been enhanced. But more than that: they have become more observant, more caring, more kind, more diligent, more open, more confident, and have been impacted by the culture of the Navajo people in more ways than can be recounted here on a blog.

When they return home, try to not ask too many questions like "what was it like?" or "how did you feel?" Instead, just watch these Navajo Oral History project participants and listen to them. You'll see and feel the answers to your questions as they describe their activities, experiences and feelings.

More to come in the next few days... In many ways, though the travel portion of the Navajo Oral History project is coming to an end, the adventure is just beginning.

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