Mexican Hat

Navajo Poems

The Mexican Hat at Sunset. Utah, 2017
The Mexican Hat at Sunset. Utah, 2017

 

Having grown up in Arizona, attended university in Flagstaff, and explored the deserts and canyons on and around the Navajo Nation, the Navajo people and their land have a special place in my heart.

Here, I offer a small handful of visual anecdotes from a recent drive through their country.

Disclaimer: These images are by no means completely representative of this beautiful place or these wonderful people…just small snapshot snippets. I would love to spend a lot more time here to try to tell a more complete and balanced story.

 

There were dreams here once. What were they? What happened? Were they sucked away by the overwhelming grandness of the landscape?

Navajo Dreams. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Dreams. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

You’ll see this “Love Life” graffiti throughout Navajo Land in the most unlikely of places. Do it. Love life.

Navajo Love. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Love. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Meth has found its way on to the Res now. No, it’s not just an urban problem.

Navajo Tragedy. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Tragedy. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Cody J. Charles was an 18-year-old Navajo from Tuba City (“…born of The Zuni Edgewater clan and born for the Coyote Pass People…”). He died in an auto accident here. Too young…way too young.

Navajo Tragedy, #2. Navajo Nation, 2017
Navajo Tragedy, #2. Navajo Nation, 2017

 

These “street murals” were placed here by the doctor and artist Dr. Chip Thomas (aka “Jetsonorama”) to promote Navajo pride and history and, occasionally, to protest attempts by the dominant culture to infringe on Navajo rights and resources. I have photographed his murals in other areas of Navajo Land before and find them quite moving. They stand in happily surprising contrast to the vast and harsh high desert environment in which they are found:

Navajo Pride. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Pride. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

And–naturally–the omnipresent golden arches (and the equally omnipresent cell phone tower):

Navajo Land Invaded. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Land Invaded. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017