Exploring sacred Navajo land
Page Travel Blog› entry 7 of 18 › view all entries
After spending an hour or so at Lake Powell, we headed into Page. We stopped at the Antelope Slot Canyon Tours shop, where the owner Chief Ray Tsosie directed us across the street for a sandwich lunch. We headed back to the shop and waited for our tour truck and guide to take us the tour.
Karine, George and, I had done some research on Antelope Canyon before our trip and all three of us had read that we needed a Navajo guide to tour Antelope Canyon, as it is located on a Navajo reservation.
The four of us had signed up for the 2.5 hour photography tour, which was advertised as a beneficial tour for avid photographers. We knew that we would not be the only one in the canyon during the tour, but we had no idea just how crowded the canyon would get.
Sherry spent a lot of the time ushering us out of the way in the canyon of the other tours, fretting aloud that the other tour guides would report her actions to her boss (Chief Tsosie). She also spent a lot of time taking Karine’s camera and snapping shots to show to the other people on the tour. This was actually helpful. Karine's photos are quite stunning, and though George and I captured good shots, Sherry really knew how to capture the best shot.
When we reached the end of the canyon, Sherry asked if we had any questions that she could answer.
She explained who found the canyon first (stating that each guide had their own origin story, she conflated at least two stories about a young Navajo girl looking for her sheep who had herded into the canyon back in the mid 1800s), what the canyon sand signifies (after spending several hours in the sweat lodge, the Navajo rub the sand over their bodies so that they are closer to their “true” earth-created natural states), why the literature said we needed a Navajo guide when we saw several Anglo guides also providing tours (she’s not allowed to talk about that, because the canyon is supposed to be for all, even though I could tell she really feels disappointed that non-Navajos provide tours) and the lack of interest in Navajo stories (very few tourists ask about Navajo traditions, which came as a surprise to me considering that’s what I had expected on this tour).
Although I'm trained as an anthropologist to interview people, I would have loved talking with Sherry no matter what.
It just goes to show how much more an illustrative and worthwhile tour you can get by asking a couple simple questions.
Back at the shop, we did have the chance to finally meet the much acclaimed Milo, Antelope Canyon guide extraordinaire. And he was even better than described. ;0) Overhearing me converse in French with Jean, the beautiful Navajo young 20-something Milo jumped in with a discussion in fluent French with Jean about how to take stunning photos of lower Antelope Canyon at daybreak. He showed his 14x20 photographs of the canyon, and Sherry described how Milo plays the flute when he gives tours through the canyon. Karine and I decided to add Milo to the list of desirable husbands, which Jean proceeded to tell Karine to go ahead and hook up while George wanted to collect Jean and beat Milo up. Oh, how I love George and his bearish ways.
Afterwards, we headed to the other side of Page to an area of Glen Canyon National Park that overlooks Horseshoe Bend. We watched the sunset atop a cliff and took way too many photos of ourselves and the incredible view.