"During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Spaniards could not contain the growth of the Navajo people or curtail their independence. Meanwhile, through trade and war, the Navajos greatly increased their wealth. True to their time-honored traditions, the Navajos conducted warfare and raiding only after performing the appropriate ceremonies. These rituals— as well as the prospect of proving their valor and acquiring riches— inspired Navajo warriors to perform daring exploits in combat and on raids. For protection and courage, they called on the power of animals and imagined that they assumed the form of these animals."
- Peter Iverson in “Native People and Native Histories,” from The Oxford History of the American West.
There’s more to the story of the American West than prospectors and cowboys: “The complex story of the West stretches across centuries, embracing many voices and contrasting cultures. The West is in fact as varied as America itself.”
Image credit: (Old No. 123) Pyramid Butte, Navajo Church in the north end of Zuni uplift, McKinley County, New Mexico., 1871-1878. Public Domain via United States National Archives.