You really can’t explore the Four Corners region without taking at least a shallow dive into Indigenous history and culture. Many of the locations you’ll be drawn to visit, like Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly tell the story of the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived there from about 550 to 1300 A.D. The Navajo, Hopi, and Ute are just some of the tribes that still have their homes in the Four Corners region and their culture is an integral part of what you’ll see while you’re there, including jewelry, art, home design and materials, food, and dance demonstration you can attend at the Cortez Cultural Center or at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.
Many places you can visit are sacred to Native American people, like Shiprock, Canyon de Chelly, Chaco Canyon, and Monument Valley. When you visit, allow yourself to see these places through the eyes of today’s Indigenous people, who revere sites like this as the homes of their ancestors and locations where important ceremonies took place. Treat these places with respect and take a moment to imagine the early people living their lives there, growing crops, building shelters, and even tracking the night sky and solstices. At Canyon de Chelly, for instance, some Navajo people still live where their ancestors made their homes long ago.
While the Four Corners states have a rich Indigenous history, you can also explore the history of the settlers who came centuries later, from the Mormons who created the Hole in the Rock at Lake Powell as a route to get to a new home to those who came to mine the area’s rich mineral resources or farm the fertile valleys.
In the United States, no area tells the story of just one culture, but many. While in the Four Corners, enjoy learning about the many cultures whose histories are intertwined, not always amicably, within the region. You’ll find it fascinating!