Canyon_deChelly

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located in Northeastern Arizona on Navajo Nation Land.
It is one of the longest continually-inhabited locations in North America, and contains cliff dwellings
of ancient Ancestral Pueblo people known as Anasazi by the Navajo (and Hisatsinom by the Hopi).
The name derives from the Spanish interpretation of the Navajo word Tseyi (which means canyon
 or “within the rock”). The pronunciation of the name “Canyon de Chelly” is “Canyon de Shay”.

This page contains scenic images of Canyon de Chelly and detail shots of
the Anasazi ruins in the canyon taken from several of the southern overlooks.

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Grand Canyon             Assorted Arizona
Canyon de Chelly        Antelope Canyon

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from Canyon de Chelly:

Canyon de Chelly & AZ Sinagua Sites

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

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Canyon_de_Chelly_White_House_Overlook_X10008


Canyon de Chelly White House Overlook X10008
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Canyon de Chelly from the South Rim White House Overlook.
In the center against the canyon wall are White House Ruins.
 De Chelly is pronounced “de Shay”. The name is derived from
the Spanish pronunciation of Tseyi, Navajo (Dine) for “canyon”.

The Anasazi who lived in the canyon were descended from Early Basketmaker cultures who
had lived in pithouses and farmed in the canyon. The Anasazi built a number of cliff dwellings
in the canyon and pueblos on the canyon floor. After they disappeared around 1300, the Hopi
farmed in the canyon, leaving for their mesas after the harvest. Navajo arrived in about 1700.

The Navajo (Dine, pronounced “Dineh”) are Athabaskan people who originally migrated from Alaska
and Northwestern Canada after the Paleo-Indian ancestors passed across the Bering Land Bridge
from Eastern Siberia during the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago. The Dine (Navajo) and the
 Indeh (Apache) were tribes of hunter-gatherers when they entered the Southwest before 1400.
The Navajo learned farming from the Pueblo people, and while some continued their raiding
and hunter-gatherer lifestyle as did the Apache tribes, many began farming in the canyons
of the Southwest. The Tewa words “Nava” (cultivated field) and “Hu” (canyon mouth) were
used by Pueblo people to describe the Dine to the Spanish, who then named them the
“Apache de Navaju”. One of the earliest canyons occupied and farmed by the Navajo
was Canyon de Chelly (or “Tseyi”, Navajo for “inside the rock”), and it is still a part of
the Navajo Nation. It contains Anasazi ruins (Navajo word meaning “ancient ones” or
“enemy ancestors”), including White House Ruins and several others shown below.

Canyon_de_Chelly_First_Ruins_X9996


Canyon de Chelly First Ruins X9996
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The Kayenta Anasazi constructed a number of cliff dwellings and structures on the canyon floor
between the 11th and 13th centuries. The First Ruins are aptly named because they are the first
ruins encountered in the canyon, and they were the first ruins studied in 1882 by Cosmos Mindeleff
who directed the team from the Bureau of American Ethnology who excavated and studied the ruins.
First Ruins has 22 rooms and a Kiva situated on a narrow ledge perched high above the canyon floor.

This image and many of the detail shots of Anasazi Ruins was taken with a 500mm lens from
overlooks on the South Rim. The ruins are at great distance (a 500mm is a very long lens which
is normally used to shoot wildlife at a distance). These images are somewhat unique as the angle
which is presented from the overlook is quite different from the low angles available from the canyon.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Junction_Ruins_X9994


Canyon de Chelly Junction Ruins X9994
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Junction ruins is just to the east of First Ruin. It has 10 rooms and a Kiva and was also occupied between 1050 and 1300.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Junction_Ruins_X10001


Canyon de Chelly Junction Ruins X10001
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Part of Junction Ruins at the far right of the alcove, taken from across the canyon at Junction Overlook on the South Rim.

Canyon_deChelly_JunctionRuins_X9998M


Canyon de Chelly Junction Ruins X9998 M
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A large detail crop of the left section of Junction Ruins, taken at 500 mm from across the canyon.

When Earl Morris of the Museum of Natural History began his excavations in 1923,
he determined after many years of work that there were occupation levels representing
a period of over a thousand years, from the Early Basketmaker II (1500 BC to 50 AD) to
the Pueblo III culture (1150 to 1350). His excavations and analysis helped to better define
the Basketmaker cultures and their transition into the Anasazi culture which followed.
Earl Morris is best known for work he did excavating at Aztec Ruins, New Mexico.

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Canyon de Chelly Junction Ruin Storage X10002 M
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Detail of a storage unit at Junction Ruins (context shot below).

Canyon_de_Chelly_Junction_Overlook_X10005


Canyon de Chelly Junction Overlook X10005
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A view of Canyon de Chelly from Junction Overlook on the South Rim. The Anasazi ruins are in alcoves on the opposite canyon wall out of frame to the left. More information on the Anasazi culture is in the Anasazi and Chaco Canyon sections.

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Canyon de Chelly Junction Ruin Storage X10003
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A storage unit (probably a granary) on a ledge at the Junction Ruins site in Canyon de Chelly.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Chinle_Wash_X10006


Canyon de Chelly Chinle Wash X10006
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The Western section of Canyon de Chelly and Chinle Wash from White House Overlook.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from Canyon de Chelly:

Canyon de Chelly & AZ Sinagua Sites

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

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Canyon_de_Chelly_White_House_Overlook_X10013


Canyon de Chelly White House Overlook X10013
(540 KB)

The view from White House Overlook on the South Rim of Canyon de Chelly, with White House Ruins
against the canyon wall at left center. White House Ruins is the only ruin which can be visited without
the services of a Navajo Guide, but as I arrived at the canyon in the late afternoon while traveling to
Monument Valley, I had to be satisfied with views from the rim. I had a 500mm lens with me as part
of my kit for wildlife shots, and made use of it for some unusual high angle detail shots of the ruins.

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Canyon de Chelly White House Overlook X10009
(617 KB)

I took several scenic shots from the rim as the light was quite variable. Experience with variable light on the Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde had indicated the advisability of taking a number of shots in case the reflectivity of the ruins caused a loss of detail when lit by the sun. I am providing several compositions taken in different light along with detail shots.

White House Ruins are the remains of an Anasazi structure on the canyon floor and a cliff dwelling. The Navajo name for the ruin is Kinii’ Na’igai (house with white streak). It is traditionally the home of the Ye’ii, supernatural beings portrayed by masked dancers in the Nightway ceremonies, and is a part of several origin myths depicted in other ceremonial chantways.

Canyon_de_Chelly_White_House_Ruins_X10016


Canyon de Chelly White House Ruins X10016
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Detail of the White House Ruins, taken at 500mm from the South Rim of the canyon at White House Overlook. Note the petroglyphs between the ruins (more detail shots are below).

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Canyon de Chelly White House Overlook X10011
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Two scenic views from the rim: one taken in low-contrast light and the other with sun lighting the ruins. Before the destructive erosion caused by heavy rains between 1910 and 1919, there were 60 rooms in the lower ruin and 20 in the upper ruin.

Canyon_de_Chelly_White_House_Overlook_X10012


Canyon de Chelly White House Overlook X10012
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The masonry of the lower walls is significantly thicker than that of upper walls. This load-bearing core-and-veneer masonry technique is similar to construction in Chaco Canyon, which indicates some contact between the cultures.

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Canyon de Chelly White House Ruins X10034
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The site of White House Ruins was occupied for over a thousand years.
Two Basketmaker II era (1500 BC to 500 AD) pithouses are under the ruins.
Tree-ring dates indicate that much of the early construction occurred between
1060 and 1087 AD, with some additional construction between 1219 and 1276.
The later Pueblo III era masonry was of lesser quality than earlier core-and-veneer
masonry of the Pueblo II period. Ceramics recovered from White House Ruins
showed wide variation, and dated from as early as 825 AD. There were also
Navajo artifacts recovered, including ritual artifacts and a sacrificial figurine
which indicating that the site was used later for Hopi and Navajo rituals.
The upper ruin was constructed in the 1080s at about the same time
as upper parts of the lower ruin, and occupied through the 1200s.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Upper_White_House_Ruins_X10015c_M


Canyon de Chelly
Upper White House Ruins X10015c M

(1500 x 1290, 657 KB)

Detail of the Upper White House Ruins and petroglyphs.
Note the 1800s graffiti scratched into the upper structure.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Lower_White_House_Ruins_X10016c_M


Canyon de Chelly
Lower White House Ruins X10016c M

(1500 x 1290, 665 KB)

Detail of the Lower White House Ruins and petroglyphs.
Note the core-and-veneer masonry and tapering walls.

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Canyon de Chelly White House Petroglyphs X10014c
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Detail of the petroglyphs on the canyon wall between the lower and upper White House Ruins.

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Canyon de Chelly Dekaa Kiva X10020
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Dekaa Kiva is a lone circular ceremonial structure accessible only by toeholds.
It stands on a ledge well above the canyon floor. Shot at 500mm from the canyon rim.

Canyon_deChelly_Dekaa_Kiva_X10019M


Canyon de Chelly Dekaa Kiva X10019 M
(1500 x 1290, 675 KB)

A large detail crop of Dekaa Kiva. The alcove directly west contains
remnants of an Anasazi ruin, and it is likely that the two were connected
by a ‘trail’ of handholds and toeholds, explaining the isolated kiva’s location.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from Canyon de Chelly:

Canyon de Chelly & AZ Sinagua Sites

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

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Canyon_de_Chelly_Sliding_House_Overlook_X10037


Canyon de Chelly Sliding House Overlook X10037
(544 KB)

A view West of Canyon de Chelly from Sliding House Overlook on the South Rim.

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Canyon de Chelly Canyon del Muerto X10047
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The entrance to Canyon del Muerto shot from the South Rim at Sliding House Overlook. Canyon del Muerto is the site of Massacre Cave, where in 1805 a Spanish military expedition killed 115 women, children and old men hiding in the cave.

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Canyon de Chelly Sliding House Overlook X10045
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The scene from Sliding House Overlook on the South Rim. At the right is the natural amphitheater in which you can see the Anasazi Sliding House Ruin. Built on a narrow ledge above a slickrock slope, erosion has caused it to slide down the slope.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Sliding_House_Ruins_X10039


Canyon de Chelly Sliding House Ruins X10039
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Called Kina’azhoozi in Navajo (Sliding House), the Anasazi ruins of 30 to 50 rooms were begun sometime after 900 AD and were occupied until the 1200s. This was originally called Sliding Rock Ruin by Earl Morris and other early excavators.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Sliding_House_Ruins_X10043c_M


Canyon de Chelly Sliding House Ruins X10043c M
(1500 x 1290, 651 KB)

Close detail of the Sliding House Ruin.

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Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock X10052
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Spider Rock is a sandstone spire rising 800 feet over the canyon floor
at the junction of Canyon de Chelly, Monument Canyon and Bat Canyon.
The name refers both to the entire formation and to the larger spire at left.

Spider Rock is the home of Spider Woman, associated with emergence of life on Earth.
She taught the early Navajo their survival skills, and also taught them the art of weaving.
Her husband Spider Man created the first loom, and Dine men still create looms today.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Spider_Rock_X10053


Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock X10053
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The larger spire is the lair of Spider Grandmother, or Spider Woman. In legends of the Dine, she created the universe by throwing a dew-covered web into the sky.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Spider_Rock_X10054


Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock X10054
(693 KB)

She also taught the Dine how to weave baskets, and when Speaking Rock, the lower spire, reports misbehaving children to Spider Woman, she catches and eats them. Be afraid...

Dine legend says that the bleached rocks at the top of Spider Woman’s spire are the bones of these children. Be very afraid...

Canyon_de_Chelly_Spider_Rock_X10062


Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock X10062
(625 KB)

I took a number of shots of Spider Rock from the Overlook, from different angles and in different light.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Spider_Rock_X10067


Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock X10067
(540 KB)

Spider Rock has been used in many films, and in television commercials with cars sitting atop Grandmother’s spire.

Canyon_de_Chelly_Spider_Rock_Ruins_X10056


Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock Ruins X10056
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Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock Ruins X10056c
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Located on a precarious outcropping above the base of the Speaking Rock spire of Spider Rock are ruins of an Anasazi cliff dwelling. On the rock shelf at right is the ruin of a Kiva, a circular ceremonial structure.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from Canyon de Chelly:

Canyon de Chelly & AZ Sinagua Sites

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

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