Sunday, 1 January 2006

Monument Valley

This is a photograph of the place where Marlborough Man used to sit for his advert shots.
The latter-day representation is quite a well managed event. Travel through the Valley can be led or freelance, in ones own or a vehicle owned by a guide. All controlled by the local American Indian tribe. If you are with a guide, you get to this place about 15 minutes into the circuit. The vehicle swings round in a circle and stops with the passenger side looking out towards arather nondescript view. Nondescript by the standards of the valley that is. What one does spot almost straight away is a small piece of cardboard just standing in the ruddy soil. On it "$1 for photos of the horse". What? Where? What damned horse? Then you will stand back and look behind you and this is what you will see. Rather, this is an idea of what you will see and no camera - digital, gilm, still or video will catch what this place is about. It is truly spiritual. Much of the valley remains off limits to the Navajo for religious reasons imposed by their own tribal leaders.
The idea of cowboys and Indians comes across strongly - I queued at my local cinema to see the films every Saturday morning. I did my usual poking in of the nose and the valley is also part of the injustice the Native Indians received.
We stayed at Kayenta just below the main park entrance as I wanted to experience that drive down the long desert road into the towers and walls of the valley. Thinking of a meal, we drove into the local shopping mall. This whole area is in fact part of the main reservation for Navajo indians. It is an incredibly sad place. The tribes claim to have chosen to run things their own way. They are concerned apparently at what they see as the wrong ways of everyday America. What they have are aimless 3rd world people. Drink seems to play some part as it was just about the only place in USA where I saw drunkenness in public to such a scale. I choose to run areas of my life in what I call reverse apartheid. I did this before getting to Kayenta. Here I saw it at the worst such a way of life could be.

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