on the border of southeastern Utah and northern Arizona, Monument Valley
contains some of the most dramatic rock formations on the Colorado Plateau.
These large blocks of sandstone were compacted during the Paleozoic
era, while the effects of differential erosion through exfoliation,
wind, and water started during the Cenozoic era. The reddish hues in
the sand and rock of this twenty-five-mile valley come from iron oxide,
while the black streaks, or desert varnish, that course down the cliffs
are manganese oxide. In addition to sandstone formations, there are
also remains of volcanic activity, El Capitan being the most famous.
valley's earliest inhabitants include the Ice Age Paleo-Indian hunters
(12,000-6,000 B.C.), Archaic hunter-gatherers (6,000 B.C.-A.D. 1), and
Anasazi farmers (A.D. 1-1300). The latter group's pottery styles reflect
a regional variation known as Kayenta Anasazi. As early as the 1300s,
San Juan Band Paiutes frequented the area as temporary hunters and gatherers.
They named it "Valley or Treeless Area Amid the Rocks" and vested the
landscape with supernatural qualities and mythological stories. For
example, Totem Pole Rock is said to be a god held up by lightning, El
Capitan a sky-supporter, and all of Monument Valley near Goulding's
Trading Post a hogan that faces east.