Hot Hogan | My Family Travels
Hogan_0
Real Tepee_0
The Hogan_0
The Hogan_0
Wide Scenery_0
Wide Scenery_0
Wooden Tepee

The first thing I remembered about traveling along a rough desert road to the Grand Canyon was “Arizona is hot!”

Donning a lightweight gray sweater and tan cargo pants that blended well with the arid surroundings, I trickled a few drops of sweat as my family’s van wobbled from side to side through the meandering sandy paths. We passed by an aloof Ace hardware store in the middle of nowhere, a never-ending sea of yellow sand and thorny shrubs, and a line of vehicles of other sightseers that appeared to form a train to our destination.

But only several hours later, we arrived at a rather strange location near the Grand Canyon itself. Noticing tepee-looking house structures that dotted the horizon and men dressed in traditional Native American clothing, I paused to wonder if we have accidently stumbled upon an Apache war camp. But the sign stating “Navajo Homes Exhibit” quickly reassured me that this array of Native American living quarters was a part of an outdoor Native American exhibit to display the ancient shelters that the American Indians previously inhabited in northern Arizona.

I treaded the barren wasteland with a company of foreign tourists, most of whom were from Taiwan, towards the dilapidated structures with certain awe, maybe from the puzzling thought of how the ancient peoples could reside in such filthy conditions throughout their lives.

But one dwelling particularly struck me. This large pile of sand and shrubs was misleading at first sight. I circled the structure until I discovered the “door”, a rudimentary opening supported on the sides by wooden logs.

“The stifling heat must be suffocating in there,” I presumed, “There was no way that living in this could have been feasible.”

But I could not stop my own curiosity. When no one around was looking, I reclined face-down on the ground, stuck my head into the opening, and pushed myself into this “desert igloo”, only to discover that all my previous assumptions concerning this “pile of sand” had all been wrong.

I sighed with immense satisfaction as I poked my head into the cool air of the hollow interior. The sun’s rays no longer touched my face and the myriad drops of sweat on my forehead felt refreshing on my skin. It was clear that the Navajo were rather practical in creating makeshift shelters from limited supplies, such as sand, shrubs, and wood, found around the area. I noticed the tightly-placed wooden logs that comprise the “skeleton” of this Navajo home, also known as the hogan, and the pieces of sticky sand and clay that held them together formed the “skin”.

In fact, this experience was so relaxing that I lay in this position for several minutes. I finally understood that my initial perceptions can be rather deceiving. On my arrival to the exhibit, I glanced at the Navajo tepees and earth lodges and instantly imagined them to be primitive structures that barely lived up to their names as “protective shelters”.

This view of disgust has certainly transformed to one of admirable fascination: that skilled Native Americans, using the meager resources of the land, were able to fashion simple but functional homes that protected them from the scorching heat of Arizona.

The first thing I remembered about traveling along a rough desert road to the Grand Canyon was “Arizona is hot!”

Donning a lightweight gray sweater and tan cargo pants that blended well with the arid surroundings, I trickled a few drops of sweat as my family’s van wobbled from side to side through the meandering sandy paths. We passed by an aloof Ace hardware store in the middle of nowhere, a never-ending sea of yellow sand and thorny shrubs, and a line of vehicles of other sightseers that appeared to form a train to our destination.

But only several hours later, we arrived at a rather strange location near the Grand Canyon itself. Noticing tepee-looking house structures that dotted the horizon and men dressed in traditional Native American clothing, I paused to wonder if we have accidently stumbled upon an Apache war camp. But the sign stating “Navajo Homes Exhibit” quickly reassured me that this array of Native American living quarters was a part of an outdoor Native American exhibit to display the ancient shelters that the American Indians previously inhabited in northern Arizona.

I treaded the barren wasteland with a company of foreign tourists, most of whom were from Taiwan, towards the dilapidated structures with certain awe, maybe from the puzzling thought of how the ancient peoples could reside in such filthy conditions throughout their lives.

But one dwelling particularly struck me. This large pile of sand and shrubs was misleading at first sight. I circled the structure until I discovered the “door”, a rudimentary opening supported on the sides by wooden logs.

“The stifling heat must be suffocating in there,” I presumed, “There was no way that living in this could have been feasible.”

But I could not stop my own curiosity. When no one around was looking, I reclined face-down on the ground, stuck my head into the opening, and pushed myself into this “desert igloo”, only to discover that all my previous assumptions concerning this “pile of sand” had all been wrong.

I sighed with immense satisfaction as I poked my head into the cool air of the hollow interior. The sun’s rays no longer touched my face and the myriad drops of sweat on my forehead felt refreshing on my skin. It was clear that the Navajo were rather practical in creating makeshift shelters from limited supplies, such as sand, shrubs, and wood, found around the area. I noticed the tightly-placed wooden logs that comprise the “skeleton” of this Navajo home, also known as the hogan, and the pieces of sticky sand and clay that held them together formed the “skin”.

In fact, this experience was so relaxing that I lay in this position for several minutes. I finally understood that my initial perceptions can be rather deceiving. On my arrival to the exhibit, I glanced at the Navajo tepees and earth lodges and instantly imagined them to be primitive structures that barely lived up to their names as “protective shelters”.

This view of disgust has certainly transformed to one of admirable fascination: that skilled Native Americans, using the meager resources of the land, were able to fashion simple but functional homes that protected them from the scorching heat of Arizona.

Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.

Comment on this article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.