Navajo Canyon Country (1954)

Brief history of the Navajo's relationship to the Canyon de Chelly and its formation over time; other topics: construction of hogans; sheep sheering; cliff dwellings; and prayer piles.
Cultural Narrative: 

Narrated by Michael Parrish from the Diné Policy Institute, Diné College, in 2019. Facilitated by Rhiannon Sorrell, Diné College. Listen to him introducing himself here.

Language of narration is primarily English.


Colorful jigsaw puzzle  map of U.S. (circa 1954) with symbols on each state indicating their industries; quick close-ups on New England and Arizona/New Mexico; lack/white footage of Manhattan skyline from a boat on the water; wide shot of Los Angeles skyline featuring Chateau Marmont and Sunset Boulevard. and then cars going down a freeway; downtown Los Angeles street with cars; images of Canyon de Chelly (Tséyi'); Navajo/Diné woman sitting at the top of a cliff, and then closer views until she gets up; Monument Valley/Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii views and sand dunes, sand blowing; images of rocks in the snow with signs of sand erosion; water trickling through crevices in rocks; cliffs. Horse and buggy and men on horses riding through the canyons; a pick-up truck driving down a dirt road; wagon tracks; small dog (łééchąą’í) coming out from around a hogan; woman from earlier seen walks from hogan towards the camera; various shots of a hogan by some buttes, then shot of a few with kids running around; child sitting outside a conical hogan with small goat playing; hogan has a vestibule; woman leaves the hogan; another dome-shaped one with piñon pine logs; close-up of the hogan's smoke hole with two stove pipes sticking through the roof; wood-burning stoves inside, one for heating (like a Franklin stove) and a cooker; interiors showing the ceiling and how clothing is stored hanging from pegs around the circular walls and trunks; interior shot of an older woman spinning wool/aghaaʼ onto a rod while two girls and a boy look at the camera; a lean-to shelter made of poles and brush sits just outside the hogan, followed by a sun shade made of same, but only covering the roof, a buggy beneath; lanterns and vessels sit out front; camera pulls back to show the structure is next to a tan canvas tent; the woman sits with a man outside of the structure as she mends a blanket and he files a metal tool (?); a boy peeks out from the tent opening; another woman sits alongside them; wide view of a (the same?) homestead identified as summer sheep camps; fences surround, man herding sheep (dibé); close-up of sheep and groups moving through the landscape; woman sheering a sheep of its fleece (dibé bighaa); men shoving wool into human-sized hanging bags on wooden structure described as scaffolds; one man stands in the bag, stamping the wool down; men load a bag of wool onto the back of a truck full of others; bags of wool stacked next to a scale; pick-up truck with a bed stacked over the top with bags of wool, drives off; series of images of various trading posts, followed by a series of images of planted agricultural fields; images of Canyon de Chelly riverbeds and greenery; images of cove dwelling with people arranging, petroglyphs of an oxen type animal and circles visible on the wall; different hogan and additional shelter between cliffs and fields of what is identified as corn (naadą́ą́ʼ); shot of small orchard next to cliffs; shots of Canyon de Chelly, closer views of rock wall; various petroglyphs of animals with antlers, other animals, people, water, and other symbols; images of ancient, abandoned, Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings (White House Ruins?) against rock walls; wide shots of the canyon with horse and buggy; Navajo man runs along a rock wall, then hiding behind a rock peeks out; images of holes along the sheer cliff walls, some worn into rock as a trail leading up/down; man uses the trail to climb up a cliff side; very large conical pile of stones and juniper cuttings identified as a "prayer pile" (tsenadjihih) with a hole in the side; woman and girl stop to break a small branch from a juniper tree and places it on the pile using a small stone to hold it in place; close-up of woman's face looking at the pile; another woman's hand repeating the placing of branch and rock, then shot of her whole body doing same; wide new of man walking across a sand dune; back to jigsaw puzzle from the opening, now a hand places the piece that contains Arizona and New Mexico.

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