shiprock new mexico

shiprock new mexico

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

Going southwest from Green River Utah you go through some of the most interesting landscape in the United States-you drive through the Spanish Valley and the road reaches elevations where the views across the Moab are breath taking and the desert is so vast that you can see stone formations for miles and miles and miles.
When you cut east at Monticello heading towards Cortez you begin to see the remainders of an ancient volcano, the first white men to see it called it ‘shiprock’,the Navajo knew it as the ‘rock with wings’…Tse’ Bit’ A’i….
The rock with wings is a sacred place for the Navajo-I am not going to try to impress you with my view of the history,this is just what I know….in the days before the white settlers came along there was an attack made on this nation of Navajo and the medicine men prayed and the answer came in the way of a volcano that erupted and rose the ground and provided a safe haven for the people to escape the attack-the Navajo lived there for a great many generations and one day they had a storm that severed the access to the lower elevations and the woman and children were stranded on the rock all starved and died….the men had been on the base of the rock tending to the gardens that fed the people when the storm had hit and unable to reach the top to feed thier families.
When you reach the the town of Shiprock you pick up highway 666 south-heading towards Gallup. The govenor of New Mexico recently signed a bill to officially change the route number-which was used to dub the road as ‘satans highway’….and honestly-it very well could have been,the place is desolate….and miserable hot in the summer-and miserable cold in the winter.
It was an interesting route-the only way that made sense when cutting across to the northwest from the southern states so it was a frequent trip through there for me when my years of trucking were still with me.
I was always amazed when ever I took this way-route 666 was about a hundred miles from Gallup to Shiprock….and not one damned thing in between but sand and rock and miles and miles of nothing-empty territory! And what amazed me was how every so often-sometimes as frequent as every 5 miles,you would come across a family standing there on the side of the road. They would just be there along side of a bundle of thier gear and packs as if they just walked out of that desert on the right side of the road and was waiting to travel the desert on the other side of the road….I learned later that these were nomadic people who still roamed the region most likely to work herding sheep and goats or merely moving along to find plant life and holy areas that have sustained Navajos for generations.
They look poor and sad,it always made me sad-for how much of this life these poor people lived was because of our white ancestors who stole the better lands and took away all that was sacred to this nation of people.
I stopped one time to offer a lift-but was quickly told they were going west across the road into the desert-and I was going north on the solid road in the direction they were avoiding….so,I never thought to offer a lift again.
I always found this as a remarkable thing.
If you have no clue about the south west-it is’nt a desert paradise at all-yes,it is beautiful-but readers…this place gets bitter winters-but yet these people endure those various changes in the seasons with out any change to thier lifestyle as nomads. It interests me in how these people have endured and lived through all of the torments the native Americans went through as white settlers shoved and pushed these people into places they could not live,and yet they survived….miserably.
In my travels I’ve been from New York City to Los Angeles and cities from north to south from Chicago to Houston,you understand-I was a long distance trucker and was everywhere everyday. I once was going from San Diego north to Kent Washington and noticed along interstate 5 in California-right there in San Diego, and I noticed these structures up inside the over passes up near the top where the bridge meets the road above. They were shelters of sort built from what appeared to be pallets and card board and were occupied by homeless people. I stopped once to get a better look and saw twenty-thirty people just sitting up there stareing back down at me. It was a strange sight-children,yes…and mothers,and the various kinds of people you’d see on the street. That stretch of highway has an official D.O.T. highway sign that is a sillouette of a man-woman-and child running,I guess that was to alert drivers to be aware of these people going from roadside to roadside.
It made me think of those Navajo on the side of route 666.

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