Thursday, February 2, 2012

2012 SW Travel Destinations - GALLUP, NM and WINDOW ROCK, AZ

Travelling on down the road, towards home, we came to Gallup, New Mexico.  Gallup was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad...something to consider if you are planning on stopping for the night - the train station is in the heart of town, next to most of the motels. 
Gallup is sometimes referred to as the "Indian Capital of the World", for its location in the heart of Native American lands, and the presence of Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, and other tribes.  A place to rest your weary travel feet, before heading on. 
Located about 27 miles northwest of Gallup, N.M., and just across the New Mexico-Arizona state line, on the Arizona side, looms Window Rock.  The administrative Capitol and center of the Navajo Nation, it takes its name from the hole in the 200 foot high sandstone hill located there.  Window Rock contains the Navajo Nation Council House, the Navajo Nation Museum, and the Navajo Nation WWII Memorial.
Ancient hand carved, "toe and hand holes" leading up the side of a sandstone rock...used to gain access to the top of this rock as a lookout spot.
"During the early months of WWII, Japanese intelligence experts broke every code the US forces devised. They were able to anticipate American actions at an alarming rate. With plenty of fluent English speakers at their disposal, they sabotaged messages and issued false commands to ambush Allied troops. To combat this, increasingly complex codes were initiated. At Guadalcanal, military leaders finally complained that sending and receiving these codes required hours of encryption and decryption—up to two and a half hours for a single message. They rightly argued the military needed a better way to communicate.
When Phillip Johnston, a civilian living in California learned of the crisis, he had the answer. As the son of a Protestant missionary, Johnston had grown up on the Navajo reservation and was one of less than 30 outsiders fluent in their difficult language. He realized that since it had no alphabet and was almost impossible to master without early exposure, the Navajo language had great potential as an indecipherable code. After an impressive demonstration to top commanders, he was given permission to begin a Navajo Code Talker test program.
Their elite unit was formed in early 1942 when the first 29 Navajo Code Talkers were recruited by Johnston. Although the code was modified and expanded throughout the war, this first group was the one to conceive it. Accordingly, they are often referred to reverently as the "original 29". Many of these enlistees were just boys; most had never been away from home before. Often lacking birth certificates, it was impossible to verify ages. After the war it was discovered that recruits as young as 15 and as old as 35 had enlisted. Age notwithstanding, they easily bore the rigors of basic training, thanks to their upbringing in the southwestern desert."
For more information on the Memorial and the brave Navajo men that served our country, look here - NAVAJO CODE TALKERS ASSOCIATION.  A quick shout out to ALL our brave service men and women - thank you for all you do, or have done, to keep these beautiful lands of ours safe and free.
Next stop on the tour, the historic Hubbell Trading Post, in Ganado, AZ.


Jackie said...

Wow, I am learning so much on your travels!! keep up the good work! You should be an author!
Hope to go to these places someday! Beautilful country!!

Carole said...

What a great story, the Navajo people have done so much for us I hope they are taken care of unlike so many tribes.

Colleen said...

Wow! You sure do cover everything in all of your travels - it is very interesting and enjoyable! My neighbor is from Gallup, NM and I hear many stories but none as interesting as yours!

Loved them and keep them coming!

Debi said...

I am loving your travel photos. I wish I could come along. I hope so badly hubby and I can make a trip out west some time. There actually was a movie about the Navajo Indians and their part in the war communication called the "Windtalkers" I believe. What a great contribution they made.

oldgreymare said...

With so much detail I feel I have actually made the trip myself. Great travel info ..perhaps you should begin guided tours? <3
I'll drive the bus....

Dorthe said...

So interesting, and so beautiful photoes-but also read with some sadness, remembering all the stories I have read and heard about how the Indians were treated -how they lost so much, and how they lost their dignity.
It must be so fantastic to visit those places where all that took place, dearest Tanya.

Donna Blackhawk said...

Thank you for sharing the photos-My GrandMother was Navajo-I have pictured our homeland for many years-its great to see where my heritage & those storys comes to life-I want so much to visit & find my family that are still on the Rezs-Its a great Honor to be part of Native Heritage-my beliefs taught as a Native & Our Peoples' culure,traditions,legends all my life n try to pass it thru my childrren n grandbabys -I also have Apache,Cherokee,Cheyenne n Italian family bloodlineml-yet I was raised as my GrandFather a Medicine Man Navajo - I remember my Aunt lived on the Reservation when I was so young & other family members wrote GrandMa--thank you for the way to find out even more about Our People thru other links-keep up the good works-

Donna Blackhawk said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful pics tht I've only image frm my GrandMothers' storys-she was Navajo,my Great Aunt & other family lived on the Rezs-its good to put a pic w/the storys of Our Heritage- also thank you for the links n more info about Our Navajo Heritage- its a Honor to be part of Our Heritage

Bead and Needle said...

Dear Donna - I have no way to email you in response to your comment, other than on here, and hope that you drop back by..."Your people" are some of MY favorite people!!! It was a pleasure writing about such a great place and culture.

There is another post (I believe it lies before the Windowrock post) on Hubbell Trading Post, that you might be interested in, as well (you can find it through the "secret decoder words" section on the right hand side of my blog. Thanks for dropping by - I hope you make it out our way, some day...I absolutely love New Mexico and Arizona, for the history - I KNOW you would, too - especially with such a deep connection! Happy Thursday - Tanya