El Capitan, also called Agathla by the
Navajo people, is a peak south of Monument Valley, AZ,
and over 1,500 ft (457 m) high. It's a few miles north
of Kayenta and is visible from State Highway 163.
'Agathla' is derived from the Navajo Indian (native) word
'ag - ha - la' meaning 'much wool,' apparently for the
fur of antelope and deer accumulating on the rock.
It's considered SACRED by the Navajo.
El Capitan is an eroded volcanic plug consisting of
volcanic breccia cut by dikes of an unusual igneious rock
called minette. It's one of the many such volcanic
diatremes that are found in Navajo "Nation" of northeast
AZ and northwest New Mexico.
El Capitan and Shiprock (in New Mexico) are the most
prominent. These rocks are part of the Navajo Volcanic
Field, in the southern Colorado Plateau. Ages of these
minettes and associated igneous rocks cluster near 25
Speaking of "clustering," time seems to be slipping
away from me. There's many Native American legends
associated with AZ's El Capitan that can be resourced
on the Web.
Though seemingly sparse, this area has a wide assortment of
vegetation, including Juniper, yucca, Russian thistle
(Tumbleweed) and Navajo Tea to name a few.
The "Navajo Nation" is currently the largest (reservation)
in the United States. Much of the endemic vegetation is
still used by Navajos for medicinal purposes, and as dyes
for their world-famous hand woven rugs.
This is a land of ancient tribal traditions, tranquility,
and endless (shifting) shadows.
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