Sunday, May 9, 2010


Shiprock is a rock formation which rises 1800 feet above the high desert on the Navajo Reservation about 12 miles southwest of the town of Shiprock, NM in northern New Mexico.

Shiprock. In Navajo: Tsé Bit'a'i. "rock with wings". To the Navajo it represents the great bird who brought the Diné (Navajo people) from the north to their present land. Anglos named it "Shiprock" in the 1870s for its resemblance to a 19th century clipper chip. To geologists, Shiprock is thought to have been formed 25 million years ago by volcanic action in the area.

To the Navajos, Shiprock and the land surrounding it is of great religious and historical significance. Navajos believe that in the beginning the people lived on top of the peak, and then men came down from the mountain only to plant their fields and get water. Legend says that one day the peak was struck by lightning obliterating the path and leaving only a sheer cliff, leaving the women and children on the top to starve to death. To this day, the Navajo forbid the presence of people on the peak; climbing has been illegal since 1970. There are many other Navajo legends and beliefs about Shiprock.

At any rate, Shiprock is the most prominent landmark in northwestern New Mexico. It can be seen for miles around. We were in the area for two days last week, and took many pictures of Shiprock. On the second day, a sandstorm with heavy winds almost covered the mountain from our view in a matter of minutes when we were just about a mile away.

Shiprock. Tsé Bit'a'i. Haunting. Spiritual. Mystical. A place of legends. A place that says "New Mexico" as much as any place in our state.



(Information from Wikipedia.)

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