Monument Valley

Part 7 of Northern Arizona

East from Tuba City takes us through Navajo Land to some of the most magnificent country on the face of the earth.

Monument Valley is north of Kayenta at the Utah state line. Further north is the Bear’s Ears, an area with a pair of distinctive, towering buttes that look like a bear’s ears, with ancestral cliff dwellings and natural bridges in a desert ecosystem.

First, we go through Monument Valley. It’s instantly recognizable thanks to dozens of Western movies; this was the favorite filming location of the famous director John Ford. The area remains popular with video production companies for the sheer beauty of the land. The Navajo have created a regional park with tours and camping, and a hotel is available nearby at the site of the original Goulding’s trading post.

However, Covid has struck hard in the Navajo Nation. Travel to the region is now discouraged for the duration of the outbreak, and the Navajo parks and visitor centers throughout the entire reservation are closed.

It’s sad how Covid came to the Navajo. It came the same way that early Europeans unwittingly brought other destructive illnesses to the Americas. The Native Americans had not been exposed to smallpox, measles, or many of the other diseases that had ravaged Europe at one time or another. The Europeans had some level of immunity and were not as badly affected by these diseases. From 1592 on, Europeans brought these diseases without knowing what they were doing – just think about the state of medical knowledge at the time. The native population was devastated.

Which brings us to early 2020. A spiritual revival was underway, and the people involved did not know they were bringing Covid along with their religion to the Navajo. Covid spread rapidly among the crowd and into the living quarters in many areas of the reservation.

The medical services were overwhelmed. In May, the Navajo had the highest per-capita infection rate in the nation, more than New York and New Jersey. They are overwhelmed with the disease, and ask visitors to delay coming to their land until it is under control.

In keeping with their request, we are leaving Navajo land for now, but will be back. For now we invite you to meet some of the characters that made up the old west. Some of them may surprise you, some you may not have heard of, others are familiar but we found some intereting tidbits about their lives you might enjoy. Please join us!

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