May 7th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Travel to Arizona’s Navajo Nation

The northeast quadrant of Arizona is unlike any other part of the state. This is where senior travelers will find an area that is home to the Navaho Nation. The Nation completely surrounds the Hopi Reservation that is tiny in comparison. The territory extends into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty.

The reservation is home to more than a dozen national monuments, tribal parks and historical sites, and is peppered with lakes and ponds – Lake Powell alone has 186 miles of Navajoland shoreline.  The Diné ,  as they call themselves, have over 140,000 people with 16 million acres most of which are in Arizona.


The word Navajo comes from the phrase Tewa Navahu, meaning highly cultivated lands.  Diné Bikéyah, or Navajoland, covers a huge span and is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America. This vast land is unique because the people here have achieved something quite rare: the ability of an indigenous people to blend both traditional and modern ways of life. The Navajo Nation truly is a nation within a nation. This interactive guide called Discover Navajo is the ‘official” Navajo Nation Visitor Guide and is full of interesting facts and figures. The Navajo culture is unique. Their homes called hogans are made from wooden poles, tree bark and mud. The doorway always opens to the east so that they can welcome the sunrise each morning.

Among some 500 Indian tribes and 318 reservations recorded in the country by the 2000 Census, the Navajo Nation is the home of the largest Indian tribe, and sprawls across northeast Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Very often, the size of the Navajo Nation is compared to that of the state of West Virginia.

The topography of the Navajoland is characterized by arid deserts and alpine forests with high plateaus, mesas, and mountains reaching as high as 10,500 feet in altitude. And then there are low desert regions with an altitude as low as 5,500 feet. Volcanic activities, wind and water erosions have formed and carved the Navajo Nation’s many majestic mesas, mountains and canyons. Navajoland boasts a number of world-renowned scenic wonders of the Southwest, e.g., Canyon de Chelly, Shiprock Peak, Monument Valley, Chuska Mountains, Window Rock, and so on. The beauty and the culture of the Navajo Nation draw over three million tourists annually from all over the world to this majestic land.

Beliefs, Customs, Traditions and Rituals

A Navajo will never kill a reptile, cut a cedar tree, whistle at night, burn ants or insects, go near a hogan where someone has died, comb their hair at night and a woman should never look at her son-in-law in the face or the son-in-law at the mother-in-law.  The list goes on and on. Burial rituals of the Navajo are extraordinarily complex, due to the beliefs that surrounded death.  And to make matters even more complicated, burial practices vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the death.  The number four permeates traditional Navajo philosophy. In the Navajo culture there are four directions, four seasons, the first four clans and four colors that are associated with the four sacred mountains. In most Navajo rituals there are four songs and multiples thereof, as well as many other symbolic uses of four.  The Navajo believe that all living things, people, plants, animals, are their relatives. Want to know more?

Seniors Discover a history and Culture Unlike Any Other

Today the Navajo population is still going strong. While young people in the tribes today search for their own identities, they still remain very close to their families and to their heritage. Norman Patrick Brown shares his concerns about the Navajo Nation. The Navajo tribes are some of the most influential of all Native Americans, and their history and traditions have been passed down over generations. The home of the Navajo Indians has always been considered one of the most arid and barren portions of the Great American Desert, but is home to the Diné.

The most important art of the Navaho is that of weaving. They are especially celebrated for their blankets and rugs, which are in high demand among collectors because of their beauty and utility; but they also weave belts, garters, and saddle girths—all with rude, simple looms. While this site was designed for children, seniors can learn a lot from it as well. Let the Navajo Nation welcome you and enjoy your trip into their sacred land. jeb

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