Native Americans in Kanaab

Coordinates: 37°2′8″N 112°31′52″O

We planned to see the Native Americans, but we never thought how much the children were going to enjoy it. We wished to have an unconventional trip, since they had already experimented Magic Kingdom many times. In search of a different vacation, we went to the isolated town of Kanaab, Utah.

We wanted to expose our children to other cultures; in this case, so they would get to share and meet the Native Americans of the Midwest of the United States. We arrived at the Indian Village of Kanaab and we were surprised with the welcome. We expected to see a descendant of a Native American tribe, but instead, Kathy, a blond, tall, and robust woman received us. The owner of this unique inn, with great emotion, took us to see the facilities.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    We enjoyed the multiple activities related to the culture of the Native Americans in Kanaab. Photo: Fernando J. Rojas

We enjoyed the multiple activities related to the culture of the Native Americans in Kanaab. Photo: Fernando J. Rojas

Teepees

First of all, Kathy showed us the common area below a ranch made of wood from Kanaab. In the rustic kitchen, the food was prepared and served in community. A big eating table with wooden benches was accommodated close to the kitchen over the rocky floor. There was also a lounging area with large cushions on the floor and an armoire on the side filled with board games and indigenous clothes for the children.

Later on, they took us to our “room”. When the children entered the teepee, they couldn’t contain their euphoria. The cushions placed on the floor were covered with authentic blankets of the Navajo Indian tribe. The boys whispered and told secrets to each other, watching with curiosity the Dream Catcher that was hung from one of the wooden posts. To their question about its meaning, Kathy explained to them that the Native Americans in Kanaab believe that that amulet “burns” the nightmares as the first sun rays come out and grabs the peaceful dreams.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    During the night, one could hear the coyotes hauling in the distance. Photo: Pamy Rojas

During the night, one could hear the coyotes hauling in the distance. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Tarantula encounter

We had our first encounter with nature in Kanaab that night. We went to take a shower in the communal bathroom of the place when, before entering the only cement building of the village, one of the boys bumped into a tarantula. The adults, especially the women, tried to maintain composure so that the children wouldn’t get scared; more than frightened, they were fascinated. Kathy explained to us that, to our surprise, the tarantulas are inoffensive. As if the experience weren’t enough, she also told us that we could hear coyotes at night and recommended to remain immobile if we encounter a snake. The boys’ eyes were going to pop out, not out of fright, but of excitement. Our ecological adventure was about to begin. 

The common area where dinner was served. Photo: Fernando Rojas

The common area where dinner was served. Photo: Fernando Rojas

Bows and arrows

In addition to encountering various specimens of nature, like the tarantula, the children enjoyed various amusing activities. The Native Americans that went to the inn taught them how to shoot with a bow and arch, and also with a sling. Trying to plunge the ax into the wood trunk was their favorite activity and until they did it a few times, they weren’t calm. The boys had the opportunity of being with other children of their age that were also staying in the inn. At night, they played chess, made crafts or dressed up as Indians.

In the darkness of the night, Leo, one of the Native Americans whom we shared time with, took the opportunity to gather and tell us legends and histories of his ancestors. Also, at night, other family members of Leo came to join us. They also taught us their traditional dances. In addition to learning the culture of this indigenous group, we were able to relate with other guests that came from England and Switzerland.

We spent some time throwing rocks with a sling shot. Photo: Fernando J. Rojas

We spent some time throwing rocks with a sling shot. Photo: Fernando J. Rojas

Medicine Wheel Ceremony

As part of other activities that the resort offers, we were able to participate in an indigenous ritual. The ritual called “Medicine Wheel” is a healing ceremony that is held at dawn. The sun timidly came out from the east. They took us to a hill where there was a wheel on the floor made of several rocks. In the interior, more rocks divided the circle into four parts that pointed towards the cardinal points. Leo conducted us to gather around the wheel to start. The ritual started with the sound of the drum and then, the participants had to walk around the circle and sit down.

Once we were all seated, Leo, who in this case was the “doctor”, started off by giving thanks to the Universe. Then they passed on, to each one of us, a lighted salvia branch to enter into a meditative state. The sun rose slowly and one could start feeling the arid heat. However, when Kathy started playing the flute, it was as if one gave permission to the breeze to blow. In this state of meditation, we should “liberate” all illnesses, pains, or people who we expected to forgive. The breeze seemed to be synchronized with the flute, as it increased and decreased according to the musical chords. It was a magical moment, very spiritual.

In this trip we learned about the Native American culture. Photo: Fernando Rojas

In this trip we learned about the Native American culture. Photo: Fernando Rojas

Chief

After meditating, Leo talked about the presents of nature. Hearing him express himself about Earth and his veneration towards her is admirable. We seemed to have been hearing the indigenous chief of Seattle defend the grounds that the whites wanted to buy in 1855. The Native Americans of Kanaab consider nature as their Mother and love her the same way.

To us, it was a privilege to get to be so close and learn about the world of the Native Americans of Kanaab. We had to follow our journey towards the Grand Canyon, but the boys didn’t want to leave. The truth is that sadness overcame us when we had to say goodbye, since we made good friends. However, we lived unforgettable moments through our new friendship with the Native Americans and our spiritual experience with Mother Nature. 


Conscious travel practices:

1. Get to know and show respect for other cultures.

2. Enjoy nature in a conscious way.

3. Participate in rituals of other beliefs and demonstrate respect.

4. Promote the economy in local lodging.