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A Monumental Matriarch

A Monumental Matriarch

After several miles of dirt roads that don't really show up on a GPS, off of the typical beaten path through the Monument Valley Tribal park that most tourists never leave, I arrived at the Hogan of the Yazzie family. On this particular visit to the Hogan, I was blessed to meet Rose Yazzie.

As I entered the circular mound structure of her Hogan, invited by Effie, my eyes faltered in the transition from the glaring overcast day to cool darkness accented by bits of natural light creeping in. While letting my eyes adjust and soaking in the scene before me, I prominently see Rose sitting quietly on a low stool next to an upright loom. She exchanges a few words in Navajo with Effie wanting to know about the guests she has brought. Satisfied, Rose gently picks up a handful of wool from the fluffy pile next to her stool and begins to work with it, combing the wool fibers until they are clean and orderly. At her feet on a Navajo throw-rug in front of her, two of the Yazzie great grand children, Skye and Kristianna Cly, participate; one playing soulful notes on her fashioned wooden flute, whilst the other played with homemade wool sewn dolls.

Although she speaks little English, Rose, or her more famous sister Susie, have welcomed a great many visitors, like myself, and the Yazzie hogan has been a frequent stop on guided tours of Monument Valley for decades. Yet despite the depth of Rose’s experience, or Susie being a local celebrity of sorts, the Yazzie family has lived a traditional Navajo life for close to 100 years — raising sheep, carding wool, weaving rugs — all without the benefit of electricity or running water.

<Narrative above is combined of sources from Arizona Highways Magazine, as well as my own words and experience>