Land is a central part of Navajo history, religion and culture. The Navajo Nation reservation spans 27,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The Nation’s boundaries lie at the Ute Indian Reservation at the Four Corners Monument, and the government seat is in the town of Window Rock, Arizona. The Navajo Nation lands features a variety of terrains, including plains, mountains, forests, lakes and desert.
The Four Sacred Mountains
The traditional boundaries of the Navajo lands are the four sacred mountains, which encompass an area far larger than the present-day reservation boundaries. The Holy People of the Navajo placed the sacred mountains on the land representing four different directions: Mt. Blanca to the east, Mt. Taylor to the south, the San Francisco Peaks to the west and Mt. Hesperus to the north. The mountains represent the major parts of traditional Navajo religious beliefs, enabling the people to live in harmony with their Creator and with nature.
Within the Navajo lands are landmarks and parks such as the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Monument Valley and Shiprock Peak. The Canyon de Chelly National Monument, a group of three canyons that lies between the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo, is considered one of the Nation’s most sacred places. The Holy Ones first set foot here, and Navajo people visit this place to honor their teachings and receive strength and power.
Spider Rock, which stands more than 800 feet tall within Canyon de Chelly National Park, features multicolored cliffs dating back to more than 230 million years. Navajo people lived in the caves and cliffs of Spider Rock for generations. It is believed to have been the home of Spider Woman, one of the Navajo people’s most honored deities.
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