Canyon de Chelly Petroglyphs

Artwork, Volume 2; Issue 2

Canyon de Chelly Petroglyphs


It was on a workshop in Canyon de Chelly in Arizona that I had a chance to photograph the Narbona panel. We traveled through the floor of the Canyon with a Navajo guide who told us the history and anthropology of each photographic location. The stories were inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking. The Narbona panel is a striking, large piece of rock art above the canyon floor, accessible only with a Navajo guide. It commemorates a massacre. In 1805, a Spanish expedition led by Lt Antonio Narbona fought an all-day battle with the Navajo, killing 105 people. The detail in the image is striking; even the trigger of the guns is visible on the rock surface. The ubiquitous Spanish cross is seen on another rider. It is a striking document of the cruel treatment of Native Americans in the early 19th century.

Photographing in such places is inspiring. To communicate the true spirit of the scene, a photographer must combine the technical aspects of the craft with artistic vision. The viewer is the judge of one’s success. 

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