Canyon De Chelly – oil

Oil, 14 x 18 inches · NFS

This is the invaders best version of the Navajo name. “The name chelly (or Chelley) is a Spanish borrowing of the Navajo word Tséyiʼ, which means “canyon” (literally “inside the rock” < tsé “rock” + -yiʼ “inside of, within”). The Navajo pronunciation is [tséɣiʔ” Indegenous people use literal locations of places and pass this down though language and story.

Laurence D. Linford has done rigorous research on Navajo Naming of places: “Navajoland is the heart and soul of the American Southwest. While the Navajo Reservation incorporates portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, it is only about half the size of the traditional homeland of 220,000 Dine, the People. In one way or another, nearly all of it, including the original homeland, is sacred. Before Spaniards and Americans affixed their own names to the land, every topographic feature had a Navajo name. ” Basso and others have shown that names of places both by themselves and in context of narratives, songs and everyday speech provide valuable insights into the ways humans experience the world. (American Indian Quarterly, Spring 1997, Spring vol. 21(2) p. 209.