Monday, September 28, 2009

Some thoughts from the road Pt. II

Last week we were in Monument Valley, Utah. The Monument Valley of iconic vistas and landmarks that are recognized around the world. The Valley itself sets in Navajo Nation property and so it is the Navajos and not the national park service that run the operations there.

We first camped there 3 yrs. ago in what we felt was the best campground we have ever stayed at because aside from any amenities the campground, which sat on a bluff overlooking the valley, may or may not have had, you were treated to the view below (among others) on a 24-7 basis.

When we were there 2 yrs. ago, they were in process of tearing-down the campground in what we assumed (were informed ?) would be an upgrade to the former site. They had campers stay down below at a far more primitive site (i.e. a couple of picnic tables with no fire pits on the hard dirt.

Additionally, work was being done at the hiway turnoff to the monument for a visitors center.

So, this year when we returned to Monument Valley we were anxious to see in what form, fit and function the upgrades would appear.

Unfortunately, it didn't occur to us to take any pictures of the new visitors center because upon a casual drive-by it did not appear to be anything more than a series of stucco one-car garages with aluminum slide-up doors for which the Indians could sell there wares. The hiway, U.S. 163, that takes you through the valley is peppered with make-shift stands alongside the road containing the Navajos hawking jewerly, beads and other trinkets so this visitors center was really not anything more than just permanent housing for tourist dollar extraction.

So, what of the new campground? First thing we noticed when driving up to MV headquarters itself was that there was far more people/traffic than we had recalled from previous visits. And when we approached the bluff upon which sat the best campground in America, this is what we saw instead.

Ugh. Well, ain't that a shame. Best campground in America completely destroyed in pursuit of the almighty dollar via a doomed-to-fail aesthetic attempt to "blend" the architecture into the ambient surroundings. What were they thinking?

What they were thinking, of course, was not about the almighty dollar but maybe just the mere dollar. A mere dollar that has been denied them because of the bass-ackwards nature of the Indian Nation property arrangement benevolently devised by the federal government (Hey, here's your "nation". Enjoy it, but don't expect to actually own any of the land upon which it sets)*. An ownership that would allow the Indians to raise capital using their land as collateral in order to start businesses and generally allow them to start functioning as a self-sustaining entity... the same sort of economic system the rest of us enjoy outside of Indian Nation.

Long story short: Isn't necessarily our cup of tea as we would've done things in a different manner but we get it. The Navajos are seizing upon an opportunity to take advantage of one of the most spectacular settings in this country and to provide jobs for their people outside the ever-present gaming industry. Who are we to sit in judgement? The increased traffic (no doubt, from the hotel) seems to indicate that the Navajos are well on their way to doing just that.

*This is generally the arrangement as we understand it. If we are wrong or are leaving out some nuances that would be germain to this specific topic we would certainly invite comments. Thanks.


B-Daddy said...

Speaking of cups of tea, maybe the Navajo need their own Tea Party to cast off the shackles imposed by the Feds on land that, in theory anyway, is their sovereign property. I am certain that there is some regulatory nonsense behind the design of that building.

Harrison said...

AS long as you're not making mashed potatoes into mountains you'll be ok!