Saturday, November 12, 2016


Almont rock art site, CO.
Photo, Jared Allen, 2016.

I recently received some fascinating pictures and information from Jared Allen. Jared shared some photographs of a rock art site near Almont, in Gunnison County, Colorado. A couple of the photos show deeply incised grooves or the sort usually defined as tool sharpening grooves, although some of the grooves appear to be arranged purposefully to create a tree-like image. Much more interesting, however, are a couple of Jared's photographs that illustrate what appear to be Navajo Yei (Holy People) figures. Almont is a considerable distance from the current region of Navajo habitation, so what gives here?

Almont rock art site, CO.
Photo, Jared Allen, 2016.

Almont, Colorado, is approximately 9 miles north of the town of Gunnison, and 60 miles NW of Saguache. Some references place the early Navajo and the boundaries of Dinetah, the Navajo homeland, far enough north and east of their present territory that it includes the San Luis Valley in south/central Colorado. "Dinétah encompasses a large area of northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, southeastern Utah, and northeastern Arizona. The boundaries are inexact, and are generally marked by mountain peks which correspond to the four cardinal directions." (Wikipedia) Indeed, Mount Blanca, one of the Navajo four holy mountains is located in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range on the east side of the San Luis Valley.

Almont rock art site, CO.
Recurved bow held by
figure on the right.
Photo, Jared Allen, 2016.

The right figure in this group appears to be holding a recurved bow considered a hallmark of athapaskan peoples and, thus, a possible Navajo identifier (see below).

Yei pictographs showing recurved
bow, Delgadito Canyon. Picture

"In Navajo tradition, the Holy People, or Yeis, are sometimes shown holding "recurved" bows. This technological innovation is thought by some to have been introduced by the ancestors of today's Navajo and Apache. The distinctive double curve is sometimes shown alone as a symbol for Naayee' Neizghani, or Monster Slayer, one of the Hero Twins." (

If these images are indeed Navajo in origin they are probably dated from back early in the athapaskan entrance into this area, as with the passage of time the Navajo gravitated farther south and west. "The Navajo occupation of the region has been divided into two major phases - the Dinetah phase (ca. 1500-1630, which includes the entrance and settling of the area by the Navajo, and the Gobernador phase (ca. 1630-1800), during which time the Navajo culture became fully defined." (Wikipedia)

So, if these Navajo figures are authentic, they are probably fairly early, or evidence of a later wanderer.



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