Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Photo Essay: A Brief Journey Through the Wild and Native Southwest: Colorado's Weminuche Wilderness and The Navajo Nation

The Continental Divide Trail in Colorado
(all photos by the author unless noted)

In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world-the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.

John Muir

Navajos in Inter-Tribal Parade, Gallup, NM

Photos are from an early August backpacking trip in Colorado's Weminuche wilderness, east of Durango, and visits to Gallup, N.M. and the Navajo reservation (AZ and NM).

Inventory--The Glorious Beginning
 of a Backpacking Trip.  Cumbres Pass, N.M.-
(the site where an 1848 "encounter" occurred
between Ute/Apaches  and the U.S.
military--37 Indians died and 2 soldiers)

The Window and Rio Grande Pyramid
Weminuche Wilderness
The Needle Mountains,  Weminuche Wilderness
The Rio Grande Pyramid (elevation 13,827 ft.)
Weminuche Wilderness
Rio Grande Pyramid in winter
(photographer unknown)

Hoary Marmots in the Weminuche Wilderness
I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.


Spruce beetle damage in the Weminuche wilderness. The majority of trees I saw were dead. Global warming has exacerbated the damage from these cyclical infestations.

Shiprock, NM on the Navajo Reservation
 (notice six-sided traditional hogan in foreground)

Shiprock High School

Years ago I saw a wonderful documentary "Rocks With Wings" about the Shiprock Chieftans girls basketball team and their African-American coach, Jerry Richardson.
Richardson led the team to several state championships in the 1990s and later died in an auto accident after taking a college coaching job in Florida. An annual tournament is now held in his name in Shiprock. 

Part of the "Rocks With Wings" can be seen on youtube (see link at end).

My friend Austin Sam outside the Querino Trading Post near his home in Burntwater on the Navajo Reservation.  Austin was a friend of the late Tony Hillerman who wrote many novels set on the Navajo Reservation. Austin has been a prolific writer himself keeping a lifelong journal about his experiences growing up on the reservation, his time in the military, etc.

Link at end to see interview with
Austin Sam

Navajo Hoop Dancers

Zuni women in the parade

Apache Dancers
“One of our people in the Native community said the difference between white people and Indians is that Indian people know they are oppressed but don’t feel powerless. White people don’t feel oppressed, but feel powerless. Deconstruct that disempowerment. Part of the mythology that they’ve been teaching you is that you have no power. Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. It is what your ancestors, your old people gave you. Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.” 
 Winona LaDuke

Chickasaw Dancers from Oklahoma

An improvised fair ride at the Gallup flea market.
Frybread anyone?

Compassion in Nature?
A Remarkable Pair of Saguaros In West Tucson. 

Link to see clips from   Rocks With Wings, and info how to order rest.
Rocks With Wings website 


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