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Zahn McClarnon loves Navajo mutton stew and has traveled all over Navajo

Editor’s note: This interview was completed before the July 14th actor’s strike. Download our 2023 travel guide at

By George Joe

All Photo Credit: Michael Moriatis/AMC



NAVAJO RESERVATION — Lakota actor Zahn McClarnon plays the central character in the television adaptation of Tony Hillerman’s crime drama novels set on the Navajo reservation in the 1970s.

In Dark Winds, Season 2, McClarnon is the protagonist  Lt. Joe Leaphorn. There are 23 Navajos who play supporting roles, such as, Deanna Allison (Emma Leaphorn), Natalie Benally (Natalie Bluehorse), Anderson Kee (Harold Bigman), plus three Navajo writers, and seven others who work in various capacities such as camera, props set up (i.e. corn pollen bag, Navajo food), and administrative.

The first of six episodes for the second season of the show will air starting Sunday July 30 on American Movie Channel (AMC).

Navajos in the News

In the 3rd week of July, our tribal president Dr. Buu Nygren penned an Op Ed for Time magazine, a once influential national magazine.  President Nygren argued that the Oppenheimer movie did not mention the sacrifice the Navajo people made towards the building of the atomic bomb.  “The Navajo people cannot afford to be, yet again, erased from history. Hollywood has a lot of work to do, and they can start by standing with the Navajo people and urging Congress to provide just compensation for victims of radiation exposure,” President Nygren wrote in his op-ed.

“The Navajo Nation has borne the brunt of America’s nuclear program, the cost of which can be measured in human lives, environmental devastation, and communities that are still suffering,” President Nygren said. “We will not stand by and allow this legacy to be forgotten or dismissed. We will fight for justice, for recognition, and for the support our people so rightfully deserve.”

The tribe has a program under the Navajo Department of Health that deals with health affects caused by uranium mining.

It is very often that a Navajo leader, strategically and effectively, adds their voice to a national topic. The national magazine is available in print and online.

Things to Do

Stateline, Tonalea (Ariz.) Chapter, July 29, 9 pm – 1:30 am
Drums of Summer, Greasewood Community School, July 27, 4:30-8:30, (928) 654-3331 for more information
Storytelling with Miss Navajo Nation at the Navajo Nation Museum & Library in Window Rock, Aug. 2, 2023, 12-1 pm MDT
Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial, Aug. 4-14. Read our story in the current issue of the Guide about the Gallup Ceremonial.

Drums of Summer, Shiprock SASI campus, Aug. 4, 2023, 11am -10 pm  (505) 368-2100 for more information

Got an upcoming event for visitors?

Arts & Craft festival, culture event, school culture event, cultural performance, sang-n-dance, pow-wow, rodeo, etc.
Send to: [email protected]


The Navajo People

– One of the unique locations on the Navajo reservation is Horse Bend, which is located just a few miles south of Page, Arizona.

Horseshoe Bend is a unique geological marvel formed over millions of years from consistent erosion.   The Bend receives 2 million visitors per year and is part of the Glen Canyon Nation Park.


Getting there by car:

From Las Vegas 4.5 hour drive to Page, and the Bend is 5 miles south.

From Grand Canyon South Rim – a little over 2 hour drive.

From Flagstaff, take Highway 89 north about 125 miles then stop at mile marker 544, which is before you enter the town of Page. Look for a parking lot on the west side of the road.


Getting there by airline:

Contour Airlines is only one airline that flys into Page, but only from Phoenix, Ariz.

For summer 2023, the flights are daily flights. Check their website at:

From the parking site to the ledge, it is a 0.7 mile hike. You are not allowed to park on the side of the road or drop anyone off. It is sandy in some spots. Including the hike and viewing, it will take abut 1.5 hours once you get there. There is no wheelchair access. The hike to the Bend is not recommended for scooters. In the parking area, restrooms are available. Tour at your own leisure. Drones not allowed.



No camping available at the site. But a campground exists in Page and a few of the locations nearby.


Safety precautions:

Do not go beyond the fence rails. The ledge to the bottom is a 1,000 foot drop, and like the Grand Canyon, some people have fallen from the top due to carelessness and disobeying the rules.

During the summer, be careful of snakes

Dogs allowed with lease


open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Most people visit from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for sunset photos.  There are less visitors in the early afternoon when it is hot.



None. But the City of Page charges $10 per carload and $5 for motorcycle for parking.  There are safety rails that visitors should stay behind. People have fallen to their death some 900 feet below.

Navajos in the News

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that Uncle Sam (U.S. government) was not obligated to help the tribe get water from the Colorado River for use by tribal members. Lawyers for the tribe, argued that various treaties and agreements with the federal government, assured them that the government also had a duty to make sure Navajos had necessary water. This news was devastating to many tribal members who took to Facebook and sounded off.

Travel Announcements

July is Monsoon season across the Reservation and travelers are being reminded to look out for flash floods on roads and canyons.

Today in Navajo History

Forty years ago, in June 1983, it will have been six months into the first administration of the late Navajo leader Peterson Zah.  In January of 1983, he defeated Peter MacDonald for the chairman’s office.

Things to Do

Several July rodeo events happening across the Navajo reservation to celebrate July 4th activities. Then July 8-9, there is a big bull riding event in Gallup, NM.

Got an upcoming event for visitors?

Arts & Craft festival, culture event, school culture event, cultural performance, sang-n-dance, pow-wow, rodeo, etc.
Send to: [email protected]