Another 300 added to the tachometer brings us to Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Chey) before stopping to rest in Holbrook, AZ.
Canyon de Chelly was absolutely gorgeous. I recommend traveling the north rim which “only” has a few outlooks. The south rim is teaming with thoughtless arrogant rich city slickers interested in ignoring the natives or asking them to jump through hoops for their own amusement.
We would have loved to walk the base of the massive colorful canyon but it costs about $90 per person as it is Diné reservation. We balked on that front.
As beautiful sight as it was, much of the beauty was overshadowed by the realization that our wealth and position was directly related to the torture, killing, and constant robbing and reneging of promises of the native peoples. The Diné live in squalor and sell goods to rich folk who don’t even look them in the eye as they pass them.
While we were at one of the overlooks on the south rim, there was a boy selling paintings on slate from the canyon floor. Some old white woman, who probably meant well, started talking to the boy. Then she handed him a card, asked if he wanted to be somewhere else and stated that the number on the card would get him the English education he needed to make something of himself.
I was happy to hear the 6th grader say he was happy here and that he wanted to grow up and stay where he was. I thought to myself, I wish I was that mature at his age. Then she walked away without buying one of his paintings.
I stepped up next. Asked how his day was. He jumped right into his sales pitch of I’m selling this stuff to pay for school supplies. I asked how school was going. He had some AIMS test coming up. When I asked, he said his family lived up the road on the Res. His family had land up here and in the canyon. He also did tours of the canyon base. But his family was hoping to catch a few more wild horses for the tours.
I purchased one of his cuter paintings. As he ran back to the truck to sign the back for us, Melanie had to run to the car to cry. I just told the kid it was the wind and allergies bothering me.
We spent the rest of our time in the canyon hating ourselves, our ancestors, and wondering if there was anything else we could do…
Romano the 6h grader will hold a special place in our hearts and minds.
For the record, Diné is what Navajo call themselves which means “people of the gods”. And that word we know so well “Navajo”?? It loosely translates in Spanish to “thief”. I learned this while sitting in a Burger King just outside the canyon. I stopped eating, I felt so sick.
I hate people. Except Ramone.