The Navajo of Arizona

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Navajo National Museum

Navajo National Museum

Arizona is one of the most popular states in the US for Brits to have second homes. The attraction is the dry heat in winter when temperatures can still be in the upper twenties compared to the dank, grey days we have here.
Another attraction could be the fact that the state has twenty two different native American nations and Britons even exceed Americans in numbers visiting native cultural sites.
The Navajo is probably the best known of the nations and, today, celebrates the day in 1868 when the first reservation was set up.

Their method of living might surprise visitors as some lived in mud huts called hogans and not the tents so often seen on television and in film. A male hogan hut is different from a female one, a female hogan having eight sides whilst a male one is generally square. Today, most of the 300,0000 surviving Navajo live in flats and houses but some still prefer hogans. Most that visitors see will be designed for the tourism market. But this is not the only type of building.
There are three ancient cliff dwellings of Navajo National Monument. These were once home to generations of Puebloan families. Constructed of sandstone, mud mortar, and wood, the dwellings known as Keet Seel, Betatakin, and Inscription House are still intact today and available to visit. To get to Keel Seel, for example, there is a seventeen mile guided trail that you can follow or you can place yourselves in the capable hands of tour operators and guides who will take you there in supplied transport.  If you choose to stay overnight, then there are campsites as well as a few lodges catering for visitors.
The countryside you will probably know but maybe you are unaware of it. If you picture almost any colour western that you might have seen, chances are that it might include some Arizona background as it is quite striking. Spider Rock, a sandstone outcrop stretches 800 feet above ground and is home to Spider Woman, not some Marvel comic creation but a dangerous spirit. There are olive groves and pine trees that many visiting for the first time would associate with other places since most of our knowledge of the fare west has been coloured by what we see in westerns.
The Navajo National Museum in Window Rock gives a much fuller account of the history of the Navajo but be aware that – as at the time of writing – the museum is not open on Sundays. It will tell the story of the Navajo, which most people have come across, who became code talkers being used by the armed forces to fox the Japanese by using only their own Navajo language.
Today, the Navajo nation have their own constitution and judicial system that is used to regulate their peoples. To many visitors to have a nation within a nation with significant powers is unusual even if some are new and not handed down over the centuries. But then, maybe that is why it is such an attraction for visitors

For more about Navajo tourism, click here.

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