Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Canyon de Chelly: Spider Rock




Located in the northeastern portion of Arizona is the remarkable uninterrupted rock landscape of Canyon de Chelly (de SHAY) National Monument.  Canyon de Chelly borders the Navajo Nation and was recognized on April 1, 1931.  This “little sister” of the Grand Canyon can boast many well-kept ruins and astounding views from its rim and between its canyon walls.  The name “Chelly” means “borrowing“ in Spanish and “Tseyl” (canyon) in Navajo.  There are Native Americans who still live and farm surrounded by the canyon walls.  Visitors can walk around freely on the rim but are only allowed inside the canyon with a guide.

One of the more promenade features inside the canyon are the two red sandstone pointed structures with the taller one reaching around 750-800 feet high.  The larger of the two is called “Spider Rock” and the smaller one is referred to as “Speaking Rock”.  In many Native American cultures there are many legends and myths about places such as Spider Rock.  The Navajo people believe that the mythical “Spider Grandmother” or “Spider Woman” has made the tall rock her home.  This divine being is very significant to the Navajo customs because they believe she protected them from all the malicious beings that walked solid earth when they first reached the canyon and bestowing them powers to fight.  She defends those who are quiet and calm and who might be exposed to harm.

Although the Spider Woman protects the Navajo people, there is a more sinister side to this goddess-like creature.  Dwelling on the lower spire, Speaking Rock, is the spirit who aides the Spider Woman in seeking out naughty children.   Any child caught being troublesome is grabbed by the legendary god, transported to the top where they encounter their doom.  They say that the chalky color of the stones at the top of Spider Rock is the bones of the Navajo children she has viciously consumed.

2 comments:

  1. I can just imagine stressed-out Navajo parents threatening their kids with a visit to the Spider Woman if they didn't behave. ;)

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