Above- At Canyon de Chelly, Edward Craig, Navajo, reproduces the signs and symbols from the walls of the canyon as remembrances.

Chinle, Arizona

The four corners area is one of the places where true American history really begins. The western states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet at right angles in the arid, red soil that permeates this scenic and majestic landscape. It is here, hundreds of years before Columbus reached the "new world," that the ancient people known as the Anasazi settled.

Now home of the Diné, called by outsiders Navajo, the area abounds with eroded landscape that has left towering mesas and striated cliffs of red, white, green and black rock. Each colorful layer has been revealed by the powerful force of water that emptied the once enormous lake that occupied most of the central part of North America. As the continent shifted, this huge body of water spilled southward with speed and abrasive power over the landscape on route to the ocean. Some spots resisted this sudden erosion and remain today as towering monuments to the past.

The deepest colors are dark, from when the earth was lifeless. Further up there are white layers which reflect the debris of shells and limestone from an ocean that once covered the land. As you look higher, the color turns to a distinctive reddish brown. This is the result of iron oxide - rust - and marks the era when the oceans were teaming with plant life and the planet was beginning to develop an atmosphere rich in oxygen.

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