Other Nearby Communities;
Teec Nos Pos
Canyon de Chelly
Aztec Ruins National Park
Bisti Wilderness Area
Earth Class Mail
Chinlee Medical Services
For more information on the Anasazi, visit Cliffdwelling.com
Chinle (pronounced Chin-lee) is located in the heart of the
Navajo Nation. The Navajo Reservation is the largest tract of land reserved for American Indians
in the United States. Larger in area than many eastern states, Navajoland
is about the same size as the state of West Virginia. Chinle
is near the mouth of Canyon De Chelly National Monument, which is a group of three
canyons that run eastward for about 30 miles. These canyons contain many
Anasazi ruins and places sacred to the Navajo. Many other National Parks and sights are nearby such as the Grand
Canyon, Lake Powell, Meteor Crater, the Painted Desert and Petrified
Forest. Mesa Verde, Navajo National
Monument (Betatakin), Monument Valley, Hovenweep and the Goosenecks
of the San Juan River in southern Utah are also within a days drive.
Dinétah is the Navajo name of their traditional homeland. Dinetah included land within the borders of the four
sacred mountains, from northeastern Arizona through western New Mexico,
and north into Utah and Colorado.
The Navajo grew crops on the
fertile floors of canyons, including Canyon de Chelly, and raised
livestock. There was a long historical pattern in the southwest of
groups or bands raiding and trading with each other. This included
Navajo, Spanish, Mexican, Pueblos, Apache, Comanche and later (1846)
the Americans. Typical events in the period between 1846 and 1863
included a cycle of treaties, raids and counter-raids by the Army
and Navajo and a civilian militia, with civilian speculators often
on the fringe.
Chinle is located in the middle of the one hundred mile long Beautiful
Valley, at over 5000 feet elevation. The center of town is at the
intersection of N-S bearing US 191 and Indian Route 7 that bears East.
Chinlee is approximately 35 miles west of New Mexico and sixty five
miles south of the Utah-Arizona state line. It is approximately a
one and a half hour drive from the Four Corners.
Chinle is a center of Tribal, county, Bureau of Indian Affairs (B.I.A.)
and other federal offices. The Chinle Unified School District is a
public K-12 unified district that serves over 4,500 students at its
seven schools. Chinle High School has an enrollment of over 1100 students.
The weather in Chinle is mild both in winter and in summer. Mountains
rising to nearly eight thousand feet on the east and west sides strip
much of the moisture and reduce the fury of the eastward moving storms.
In the high desert, the land is arid and offers only small pine and
juniper trees on the hills, with short grasses and low bushes covering
the open valleys.Yucca, and small cactus grow in the sandy soils above
the valley floor. Large stands of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees
can be found in the nearby mountains. Snakes are uncommon. The United
States Park Service operates a no fee, public campground at the Canyon's
mouth. It is located in a grove of towering cottonwood trees, with
clearly defined spaces and tables. It has a washroom and toilets,
but no hook-ups are available. Spaces are available for both family
and group camping.
Guides may be hired for those wishing to take their own vehicles into
the canyon, overnight camping is permitted. This national monument
is unique in that it still remains in the hands of the Navajo people
and is still actively farmed during summer months. The three washes
that carved the canyon when in flood, originate in the high mountains
to the east. Flooding has been reduced by dams built for agriculture,
but sudden storms can still fill the canyon's bottom with over four
feet of raging waters. As the washes, wet or dry serve as the main
roadways into the canyon, caution is necessary. Those in the bottom
of the canyon may never see the rain falling miles distant, that suddenly
can appear as a rushing wall of water. Extensive plantings of Russian
Olive and Tamarisk trees in the last century now shield the bottom
lands from most floods, this has concentrated any water into the existing
Three hotels are available in Chinle, and one of the two bed and breakfast's
in the Four Corners is reached by a short drive into the mountains,
as is the Rainbow Inn, a converted dormitory at the Dine' College
Campus in Tsaile. Coyote Pass Hospitality is a family run business
catering to those who want to do more and learn more about the Navajo
people than they can from a tour bus window. Cultural exchanges, with
Navajo foods and stories form the core of what a visitor may expect.
Accommodations range from the traditional Hogan made of logs with
out-door plumbing, to more advanced accommodations. Phone 928-724-3383
(Ask for Will B. Tsosie (pronounced sew-see))
Chinle was originally established as a government settlement along
the south bank of the de Chelly fork of the Chinle Wash. In 1849 the
Navajo Treaty with the United States was signed. In the winter of
1864 the surrender of the de Chelly Navajos was accepted which resulted
in the "Long Walk", an arduous 350 walk to Ft. Sumner in
New Mexico of 8,000 to 12, 000 Navajos. They were encarcerated as
captives of the US Government until the Navajo Treaty of 1868.
In 1882 the first trading post was established at Chinle and the
Franciscan Fathers established the first mission in 1904.
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