The Monument Valley
I am writing this blog entry from my Room #119 of Goulding’s Lodge at the Navajo Tribal Land on the Arizona/Utha border. Of all the places that I have visited in the United States, I must admit today’s trip to the Monument Valley is the most spectacular one.
At the Monument Valley, the mountain rocks are attractive because they oftentimes resemble animal images such as bear, rabbit etc. The mountains are simply stunning. They say during the Depression years, the Monument Valley enormously suffered from the poor state of the economy. In 1938, the Navajo people sent a couple comprising of Harry Goulding and his wife Leone (whom he called Mike) to Hallywood to search for a solution to the economic crunch.
Hence, they met Director John Ford and convinced him to come to the Monument Valley to direct his next movie. Within a month, John Ford and his crew arrived in the area and began to shoot “Stagecoach“, the first of nine classic Ford films shot in Monument Valley.
Since then, this place is used for movie- making and advertisement shoots. This Valley is only at a two-hour drive from the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Besides the natural and scenic beauty of this place, what is extremely interesting to know is the very structure, culture and history of Native native Indian tribes.
These tribal areas are not directly controlled by the U.S federal government. There are around five hundred Native Indian tribes and the Navajos are the largest tribe with an estimated population of 700, 000. They live mostly in Arizona, Utha, New Mexico and California. They have their own, government, as well as a president who is elected and is responsible for the relations of the tribes with Washington.
We got a chance to see the wooden homes of the Navajos called hogans we ate dinner there. These areas do not have access to electricity yet they are culturally very rich. After dinner, our Navajo guide, Carlos, introduced us with scores of tribal songs and dances. Interestingly, he encouraged us all to participate in Navajo songs and dance. As we sang and danced, it ended as an unforgettable experience. The Navajo speak their own language which is totally different from English. Their children are also taught this language at school along with English. During the second World War, the American army used the Navajo language for (Secrete) communication so that the “enemy” didn’t understand what they called a very difficult language.
There are so many things in this area which could be compared or equated with Balochistan, which also has a deep-rooted tribal system. It at least reassures us that we are not the only people in the world living in a tribal system. Tribalism in Pakistan has always been cited as a reason to deny the tribes the right to enjoy internal autonomy. There is not as much federal influence on these tribes as we have in Balochistan. These floks have the right to teach and use their own distinctive language.
In our case, we often take backwardness as a disadvantage but here they equate it with rich cultural heritage. Tourists from all over the world visit these under-developed places and enjoy the tribal music and dance.