Skip to Main Content

Course & Subject Guides

Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, Spring-Summer 2018: Cañon de Chelly

This library guide is an overview of the Archives & Special Collection exhibit on Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian.

Banner for Cañon de Chelly

Cañon de Chelly - Navaho

Photogravure of Cañon de Chelly

Cañon de Chelly - Navaho, 1904

A wonderfully scenic spot is this in northeastern Arizona, in the heart of the Navaho country - one of their strongholds, in fact.  Cañon de Chelly exhibits evidences of having been occupied by a considerable number of people in former times, as in every niche at every side are seen the cliff-perched ruins of former villages. 

Print caption by Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Portfolio I, Plate no. 28, 1907.


The Garden of the Navaho

While the Navaho leads a wandering life, the zone of his movements is surprisingly limited; indeed the average Navaho’s personal knowledge of his country is confined to a radius of not more than fifty miles.  The family usually has three homes, the situation of which is determined by the necessities of life.  Near their summer home they cultivate small crops of corn and vegetables in narrow, sandy washes, where by deep planting sufficient moisture is insured to mature the crop.  In a few sections small farming is conducted by means of irrigation.  In Cañon de Chelly, which may be termed the garden spot of the reservation, there are diminutive farms and splendid peach orchards irrigated with freshet water.  The cañon drains an extensive region, and even a light rain causes the stream which flows at the base of its lofty walls to become swollen.  This water the natives divert to their miniature cornfields and orchards, one or two freshets assuring good crops. 

Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Text I, 73-74, 1907.

Curtis device


Banner of photos of the Navaho