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Northeast Arizona Travel Guide

  • Photo: jessicakirsh / Shutterstock

Navajo Nation East

Land has always been central to the history of the Navajo people: it’s embedded in their very name. The Tewa were the first to call them Navahu, which means "large area of cultivated land." But according to the Navajo creation myth, they were given the name ni’hookaa diyan diné ("holy earth people") by their creators. Today tribal members call themselves the Diné (pronounced

din-eh)—"the people." The eastern portion of the Arizona Navajo Nation (in Navajo, diné bikéyah) is a dry but often surprisingly green land, especially in the vicinity of the aptly named Beautiful Valley, south of Canyon de Chelly along U.S. 191. A landscape of rolling hills, wide arroyos, and small canyons, the area is dotted with traditional Navajo hogans, sheepfolds, cattle tanks, and wood racks. The region’s easternmost portion is marked by tall mountains and towering sandstone cliffs cut by primitive roads that are generally accessible only on horseback or with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

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