What Antelope Canyon Means to the Navajo People

Posted September 4, 2019 by in Blog Post

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antelope canyon light beam

Located near Page, Arizona and other favorite sites like Horseshoe Bend and Rainbow Bridge, Antelope Canyon is the most-photographed and most-visited slot canyon in the Southwestern United States. What some do not know is that this natural wonder is a sacred site of the Navajo Nation. What is the history of this beautiful canyon, and what does it truly mean to the Native American Navajo people?

Antelope’s History

Why is Antelope Canyon called “Antelope?” It is believed that pronghorn antelope once grazed in and around the slot canyon, making this name a logical choice. The local Navajo people say that Antelope and the entire LeChee area were also popular areas for cattle to graze in the winter. No one knows exactly when Antelope was discovered, but its geography was created by water running over its smooth sandstone for many, many years. Because of this, the Navajo people call Upper Antelope Canyon “Tse’bighanilini,” which means “the place where water runs through rocks” in English.

Antelope is made up of two separate slot canyons: Upper Antelope, mentioned above, and Lower Antelope, which is called “Hasdestwazi” by the Navajo — which means “spiral rock arches.” Upper Antelope is the more popular of the two sites due to its breathtaking summer light beams that shine through the canyon walls.

Antelope Canyon and the Navajo

The Navajo people consider Antelope Canyon to be a very sacred site with deep religious significance. Entering the Canyon is akin to entering a cathedral for members of the Navajo Nation. They must pause before entering to frame their minds respectfully and thoughtfully. To them, Antelope Canyon is a symbol of Mother Nature’s gifts and power and is blessed every four years when the Navajo give thanks to the natural elements that shaped its wondrous beauty.

Due to its spiritual significance, Antelope Canyon is a Navajo Tribal Park and can be explored during tours only. Selfie stick usage, littering, and other signs of disrespect are forbidden. Any sightseer or photographer can enjoy the rich history and beauty of Antelope Canyon if proper respect is demonstrated during the visit.

Book an Antelope Canyon Navajo Tour

Are you ready for your Antelope Canyon tour? Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours offers fun Upper Antelope experiences led by knowledgeable Navajo tour guides who know all about Antelope and its history. Contact us online to book your adventurous Antelope Canyon tour.