Mountains on the Navajo Nation reach elevations of 10,000 feet while valleys drop to 4,000 feet above sea level, creating three distinct climates on the country’s largest American Indian reservation.
Temperatures range from 11 degrees to 110, and though most of the reservation is considered arid, people have lived—and thrived—there for thousands of years.
Dozens of movies have been filmed on the land, and poets, novelists and adventurers have built entire careers based on Navajo culture and legend. Linguists, anthropologists and academics continue to study the people, the language and the 27,000 square miles of land.
Here are seven more photographs that are iconically Navajo:
The Shiprock pinnacle rises 1,600 feet above the desert floor.
The Shiprock pinnacle, a monolith that rises 1,600 feet above the desert floor in northwest New Mexico, is perhaps best known for its appearances in recent films “The Host” and “The Lone Ranger.” Called Shiprock because of its resemblance to a 19th century clipper ship, the Navajo know this extinct volcano as Tse’Bit’Ai, or “rock with wings.”
Navajo Council Chambers are a national historic landmark.
Built in 1934, the eight-sided Navajo Nation Council Chamber is the legislative headquarters of the Navajo tribe. According to the National Park Service, the chamber is the “single-most significant building in the United States symbolizing the New Deal revolution in federal policy.” It is now a national historic landmark.
Getting ready for a powwow.
Preparing for powwows can be a family affair. In this photo, a woman wraps leather bands around a dancer’s braids.
Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona.
People have been living in Canyon de Chelly for more than 5,000 years. Ruins like Antelope House, seen here, tell stories of ancient people. In modern times, Navajo continue to live and farm inside this canyon, which is located near Chinle, Arizona and managed by the National Park Service.
A hoop dancer.
A Navajo hoop dancer performs for tourists in a parking lot in Page, Arizona.
An iconic Navajo silhouette.
Metal silhouettes like this one near Shiprock, New Mexico, perch along Navajo highways as silent reminders of the past.
A sunrise in Monument Valley.
This sunset photo of Monument Valley captures what is perhaps the most iconic landscape of the American West. The Mitten Buttes, recognizable by the “thumb” pillars, are famous worldwide.