Continuing our southwest Art Adventure…
Monument Valley pulled our memory heartstrings the most. The whole area looked so familiar and so enchanting, yet neither of us had been there before. It has a very calm, stately and spiritual ambiance. It was once a Paiute Indian Reservation.
The story of the settlement of the West is long and sad for many native peoples. When the Paiute reservation was relocated, these lands were opened up for sale and a large track was purchased by Harry Goulding and his wife, Leone. They operated a Trading Post from the 1920’s until just before Harry’s death in 1962. Leone lived there until her death in 1992. During their tenure, they expanded their services and buildings to include a small movie theatre, museum, store, and several guest accommodations including a lodge, restaurant, gallery, and gift store. We stayed at their campground, hidden in the middle of a beautiful red rock canyon.
When the depression hit, the Navajo Reservation suffered greatly. The Gouldings took the last of their money and went to Hollywood to try to attract prominent director, John Ford to make western movies in Monument Valley. “Stagecoach”, starring John Wayne, was the first of many famous movies made in the area. It virtually saved the Navajo people, as they were hired in a variety of roles, such as guides, actors and horsemen.
Monument Valley is within the Navajo Tribal Park. The Gouldings are known to this day as having been kind, fair, honest and good people, especially to the native peoples. We spoke to the grand-daughter of a Navajo Chief who said her grandfather acted in many of John Ford’s movies. The Chief didn’t know how to speak English, but he and John Ford never seemed to have any problems understanding each another. The Navajo people run all of the facilities, including Monument Valley Tribal Park. It was interesting to learn about their culture and the area’s history.
The 17-mile drive takes a minimum of three hours to complete and there are many magnificent sights to see. There are more areas to discover and experience, but many are only accessible with hired Navajo guides.
We still feel a lingering sense of peace associated with Monument Valley.