Exploring sacred Navajo land

Page Travel Blog

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Off roading to get to the canyon.

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 entrance of Antelope Canyon.
This particular tour company had several rave reviews on TripAdvisor, most of whom had recommended a guy named Milo as tour guide. Alas, we were not part of Milo’s tour and instead had a guide named Sherry.

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.

Inside the canyon.
I had overhead an Anglo tour guide talk about what the canyon means to the Navajo, so I asked her about what I had overheard. And this is where the tour became worthwhile. Sherry spent the next 30 minutes talking to me about the Navajo and the canyon's importance.

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.

Late afternoon sunbeams.
She was eager to share, and even on the drive back to the tour shop she talked to me about her background (her mother is a Navajo, as her husband and she lives on a Navajo reservation, although she feels more like Laguna-Acoma Indian, which is her father’s tribe located in New Mexico). Back at the tour shop, she spent another while showing me books of Southwest Indian traditions. George, Jean, and Karine tried to listen as much as possible, and I think they felt more like they had a “real” insiders tour rather than the strict photography tour.

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.


 

acowboy says:
first of all, I could of been your tour guide since i am navajo... and the time could of been endless = ) meaning you wouldn't have to pay any entry fee nor any photo time (sorry had to rub it in!!) and their are so many stories about the canyon - its insane!!
Posted on: Oct 10, 2008
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Off roading to get to the canyon.
Off roading to get to the canyon.
The entrance of Antelope Canyon.
The entrance of Antelope Canyon.
Inside the canyon.
Inside the canyon.
Late afternoon sunbeams.
Late afternoon sunbeams.
The tour guide and I look at my cr…
The tour guide and I look at my c…
Hiking to Horseshoe Bend.
Hiking to Horseshoe Bend.
Desert wildflowers.
Desert wildflowers.
Atop the cliff overlooking the can…
Atop the cliff overlooking the ca…
Horseshoe Bend at sunset.
Horseshoe Bend at sunset.
Self portrait.
Self portrait.
The canyon.
The canyon.
Colorado River.
Colorado River.
Sunset.
Sunset.
Page
photo by: acowboy