Friday, November 17, 2017

The Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation

The Navajo are one of the awe-inspiring attractions on a Grand Canyon Day Tour. The Navajo Nation is an ancient American area enveloping just over 70,000 square kilometers. It inhabits some parts of Northeastern Arizona, Southeastern Utah and Northwestern New Mexico in the United States of America. It is one of the most remarkable regions retained by a native American people with a population of close to 350,000 people.

The Navajo nation has an extensive history since its establishment in 1868. The Navajo people are thought to be closely related to the Apaches, and both these tribes moved from North of Canada where many of the Athabaskan speakers live. In fact, Athabaskan speakers living in Canada can comprehend the Navajo language despite the geographical division.

The movement of the Navajo people began in 1400 CE, and the people were believed to be hunters and gatherers before coming into contact with the Spanish and Pueblos. Their relationship with these people introduced them to new crop farming techniques that consisted of growing beans, corn and squash. In addition, they learned about livestock farming from the Spanish. Within no time; meat was an essential part of the Navajo diet. The trade relations between the Navajos and the Spanish continued and resulted in the formation of a loose alliance that was intended to fight off the Apache and Comanche bands.

In the year 1800, Governor Chacon led an expedition against the Navajos and moved the Navajo chiefs to call for peace. Several expeditions between the Spanish and Navajos occurred in the coming years and in 1805, the request for peace was reinforced. Peace talks between the Navajos, Spanish, Apaches, and Hopis continued until the arrival of the Americans in 1846.

The first contact among the Navajos and the Americans came in 1846 when an American general occupied the Navajo territory during the American-Mexican War. Because of the intrusion, the Navajo chiefs authorized several treaties with the American generals that acknowledged the transfer of jurisdiction of the territory from the United Mexican States to the United States. This arrangement allowed for the building of trading forts and other facilities in the Navajo territory. The treaty did not go well with all the groups involved, particularly the Mexicans and several raids resulted but after several years, the Americans managed to restore peace in the Navajo area.

The Navajo culture is rich in art and crafts. These people are excellent silversmiths, and this trade was introduced to them by the Mexicans and Spaniards at the time of the 19th century. The major source of silver was from molten American silver dollars. Their art skills were not limited to silver works as their pottery skills were amazing as well. The earliest pieces of pottery have been recorded back to the early 1500's. After The Long Walk in 1860, the trading posts built allowed Navajo artisans to sell their pottery. Ancient Navajo pottery pieces have hardly any decorations and what makes them special is their melted pinon pitch which makes the pieces glossy and waterproof. It is common to find random grey and black markings on the items. These markings are described as fire clouds which are caused by the direct burning of fuel during firing.

The other exceptional crafts created by the Navajo people are wedding baskets. These baskets are a significant part of their ceremonies. Today, people from all over the world seek them for their beautiful style and qualities.

Navajo rug weaving skills are strongly recognized around the world, and this is due to their unique designs. The rugs are a beauty to the eye, and this skill is believed to have originated from a woman called "The Spiderwoman", who made a loom according to the instructions given to her by the Holy Ones. Today, the Navajo art of making rugs has been diversified and the pieces available are genuinely breathtaking.

The last element of Navajo art that was used for ceremonial purposes is the method of sand painting. The paintings represent a wide range of ceremonies and holy songs. This skill has also been adopted by modern artists today.

A Grand Canyon Day Tour is the perfect way to experience the region and The Navajo Nation. Enjoy a tour from Tourplicity and visit a Navajo trading post where you can buy arts and crafts from these incredible people. Give us a call today to make your tour reservation!