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Southwest USA: Indian Reservations and Monument Valley

The first rays of the sun turn towering shadows into red-hot sandstone rocks that protrude into the sky like needles. The day wakes up in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which stretches from Arizona to Utah. Some tourists are already awake and enjoying the morning spectacle in the middle of one of the most famous landscapes in the USA. John Wayne rode and shot here for quite a few westerns.

Harry Nez wears a cowboy hat on his full gray hair and looks into the rising sun: “I enjoy this miracle almost every morning.” The tour guide proudly shows two Swiss people the photos of various rattlesnakes on his mobile phone.

Then he turns slowly around his own axis with an outstretched arm and says: “This all belongs to my people.” He doesn't just mean Monument Valley, but the entire Navajo Nation Reservation. The Indian reservation is about the size of Bavaria.

Signs on the roadside inform tourists on round trips where they are. There are over 300 Indian reservations between California and Florida. Of course they are not fenced in. All Native Americans, descendants of the Native Americans, have a US passport. Of course, they speak English and can live wherever they want. Not all of the nearly 350,000 Navajo who call themselves Diné live on the reservation, explains Harry Nez.

Tourism helps, says the young woman

The tourists' vehicles stir up a lot of dust this morning in Monument Valley. On the marked main route, you are allowed to curve through the semi-desert between rock faces and peaks without a guide. Entry to the park with one car and up to four people is $ 20. Most popular photo opportunities: West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte. The three table mountains rise spectacularly from the sand at a 90-degree angle.

Harry Nez takes 90 dollars for the three-hour tour in an off-road vehicle on partly hidden paths. Not exactly cheap, but still an incomparable experience. At one point the Navajo asks you to lie down next to him on a stone slab. Looking up towards the rock vault that looks like an eagle's head. It shines sky blue through a small hole - the eagle's eye.