May 18, 2006
Shiprock, New Mexico

Shiprock : Volcanic formationShiprock is a volcanic formation created by erosion of the soil around a tube. After several years of erosion, the formation is left behind. A very indepth description of how this happens can be found here.

It is located in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and originally called Tall Chief. A government settlement was founded in 1903 to the northeast of this landmark which created the Shiprock Indian Boarding School. This settlement has grown into the township of Shiprock. One of the larger fairs is based here, the Northern Navajo Fair held in October.

This volcanic formation has several Navajo legends attached to it. The Navajo name for the rock is Tse'Bit'Ai (Rock with Wings). Here are just a few of the legends.

Shiprock : from a distance

Tse'Bit'Ai is the location that either a phantom ship or a giant bird transported the people to from the north. Or, this is the congealed blood of giants killed by the Warrior Twins of the Navajo.

One of the more popular legends state that Bird Monsters (giant birds) made their nests here and fed on human flesh. The Warrior Twins were summoned to rid the Navajo of the Bird Monsters. The Warrior Twins then killed the young birds and lay in wait for the Bird Monsters. One twin used lightning to finish off the adults freeing the people from the scourge. A variation of this story claims the adult Bird Monsters were slain by Monster Slayer, who then took the young birds and created the eagle and owl by spinning them about his head. Eagle and Owl were then released to help the "five fingered people".

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