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Monument Valley

Cultural History
Way Cool Facts

History of Monument Valley and Its People

Ancient pictograph left by the Anasazi Indians (4)

     Monument Valley has long been inhabited by human beings.  As long ago as 12000 - 6000 BCE, there is evidence of Ice-Age hunters.  From 6000 BCE up to shortly after the Common Era, there is evidence of ancient hunter-gatherers.  Around this time, Anasazi Indians began to appear in the area.  These people left behind numerous petroglyphs, pictographs, and pottery that can still be seen today in Monument Valley.  The dwellings of the Anasazi people can also still be seen upon visiting Monument Valley.  Not much else is known about these people, however, as the Anasazi Indians suddenly disappeared around 1300 AC (1). 

The Navajo people still practice sheep-herding today as their ancestors did (5)

     By 1300 some new hunter-gatherers began to frequent the area for temporary periods of time.  These people were known as San Juan Band Paiutes.  Eventually the Navajo people came to inhabit the area, and this people still lives in Monument Valley today after centuries of hardship.  In the 1700s, Spanish and Mexican expeditions began to arrive to carry out slave raids and to exploit the area of its resources.  In the 1860s Kit Carson, a white American, raided the area and displaced the Navajo people to a different reservation.  By 1868, however, most of these captured Navajo had returned to Monument Valley only to find that prospectors were in the area looking for silver.  Finally in 1884, after centuries of exploitation, the Navajo Indians received Monument Valley by executive order of President Chester Arthur as part of the Navajo Reservation (2).   Even though the Navajo people suffered greatly for many centuries, their way of life continues to flourish today as their traditions, language, and art  survive and their harmonious relationship to Monument Valley remains strong (3). 

View of Monument Valley's East and West Mitten buttes at sunrise (6)

1.  John Crossley, The American Southwest: Utah: Monument Valley, 2005, <> (5 January 2006).
2.  Ibid.
3.  Tom Phillips, Keyah Hozhoni Monument Valley Tours, 2005, <> (30 December 2005).
4.  Ibid.
5.  Ibid.
6,  Ibid.