|The Long Walk|
This work is based on the Court House Towers at Arches National Park and on the Long Walk of the Navajo in 1864. Though actually I see this painting more as a celebration of their return. On June 18, 1868, the once-scattered bands of people who called themselves Diné, set off together on the return journey, the "Long Walk" home. This is one of the few instances where the U.S. government relocated a tribe to their traditional boundaries. The Navajos were granted 3.5 million acres of land inside their four sacred mountains. The Navajos also became a more cohesive tribe after the Long Walk and were able to successfully increase the size of their reservation since then, to over 16 million acres.
On one of my first extensive visits to the Navajo reservation researching Navajo rugs I stopped in Olijato which means Moonlight water and heard the story about how the Dine returned tired and thirsty and out of food and water to their homelands and collapsed exhausted upon the rocks not knowing how they would go on. As the sun set and the land cooled the moisture in the rocks rose into the small depressions cut by the wind in the sandstone and the moonlight shone on the water alerting the peopleso they could quench their thirst.
Olijato is near Monument Valley than Arches where Court House Towers is but artists must take some artistic license from time to time.