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Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Bii' Ndzisgaii, meaning valley of the rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor. It is located on the northern border of Arizona with southern Utah, near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation.

The valley floor is largely Cutler Red siltstone or its sand deposited by the meandering rivers that carved the valley. The valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide.

The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is Organ Rock shale, the middle de Chelly sandstone and the top layer is Moenkopi shale capped by Shinarump siltstone. The valley includes large stone structures including the famed Eye of the Sun.

Between 1948 and 1967, the southern extent of the Monument Upwarp was mined for uranium, which occurs in scattered areas of the Shinarump siltstone; vanadium and copper are associated with uranium in some deposits.

 

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Suzie Yazzie outside her hogan.

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Susie Yazzie (estimated to be in her mid-90s) is a Navajo weaver and former actress, author and tribal spokeswoman. She has been in nearly every film and documentary photo book and newspaper or magazine story about the Navajo. She was in several John Ford films shot at Monument Valley. She also performed in "My Darling Clementine" and "Cheyenne Autumn." She still weaves rugs today.

At the sight of visitors, the creases in Susie’s age-spotted face deepen into a smile. She exchanges a few words in Navajo (she speaks very little English) with her daughter, Effie. Susie wants to know about the guests Effie has brought. She loves visitors - it's what keeps her going strong.

Sadly, Susie the Matriarch of Monument Valley passed away on February 3, 2013. She was a grand 98 years young. A woman of great dignity and wisdom, Susie's journey was rich in tradition and history. As a young girl, Susie was left to care for her younger siblings when her mother passed during childbirth and her father abandoned them in grief. With her new found responsibility and little resources she turned to trader, Harry Goulding for help. Goulding in turn traded rugs for groceries and other necessities and kept a watchful eye over Susie and her siblings.

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