Encompassing around 84,000 acres, Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona preserves the ancient canyons that have been home to indigenous peoples for more than 4,000 years. Pueblo, Hopi, and Navajo have lived, farmed, and established traditions in these lands. The National Monument was established by President Herbert Hoover on April 1, 1931 as a unit of the National Park Service, though ownership of the land remains with the Navajo Nation through the Navajo Tribal Trust. This unique relationship between the National Park Service and tribal trust land is the only one of its kind in the United States. With roughly 40 Navajo families residing in the canyon, the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation share resources and continue to work in partnership to manage this special place.
The name De Chelly is a Spanish interpretation of the Navajo word Tsegi, which means roughly rock canyon. The Spanish pronunciation day shay-yee has gradually changed through English usage, and the name is now pronounced d'SHAY.
For nearly 5,000 years, people have lived in these canyons - longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. In the canyons are ruins of several hundred prehistoric Pueblo villages, most of them built between A.D. 350 and 1300. After the Pueblos left in search of better farmland, their discontents, the Hopi, established fields, orchards, and traditions in the canyons. In the place called Tseyi, their homes and images tell stories. Today, Navajo families make their homes, raise livestock, and farm the lands in these canyons.
Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, the cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly--including distinctive architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery--exhibit remarkable preservational integrity that provides outstanding opportunities for study and contemplation. Canyon de Chelly also sustains a living community of Navajo people, who are connected to a landscape of great historical and spiritual significance--a landscape composed of places infused with collective memory. Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Park service units, as it is comprised entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that remains home to the canyon community. NPS works in partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage park resources and sustain the living Navajo community.