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House of Dawn: Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation


  • Grand Canyon National Park Grand Canyon, Arizona (map)

MARCH 4 - MARCH 11, 2017, which includes 6 hours of pre-expedition class meetings and 2 hours of post-expedition class meetings during the Spring Semester, 2017.

3 Credit Hours: FYS 100 "House of Dawn: Navajo Nation and Grand Canyon", CORE credit

Program Costs: ~$1,990 all-inclusive (must be enrolled as a full-time student. This means students must be registered and enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours including this 3 credit hour expedition. Also, if registering for this expedition results in the student's course load exceeding 18 hours, then the student will be required to pay the required fees for excessive credit hours as defined by Xavier University's Registar).

Security Deposit: To secure spot, a $400 nonrefundable deposit is due by Jan 15, 2017. This deposit is included in the travel/lodging costs and will be deducted from the total travel/lodging cost once it is made.

Overview: After attending 6 one-hour classes to learn about Navajo life and the ecology of the landscape, this First-year Seminar will take students to awe-inspiring places in the American Southwest, including the Grand Canyon and significant places on Navajo lands. Mindful of Navajo beliefs, we respectfully explore the landscape's story firsthand by venturing into places to reflect on how the human story is integrated within the life, Earth and Universe stories and, in so doing, emphasize the primary community that brought us into being and, even now, nurtures us in every aspect of human quality of life. We introduce students to Navajo guides, who will lead students on story-based hikes in Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly, which is followed by a "medicine man" lead sweatlodge ceremony and an evening with the Navajo creation story told by campfire under the starry skies. We discover that what we do to the other-than-human, we do to the human; what happens to the outer world, happens to the inner world. The Navajo certainly have something to teach us about this, as this is deeply integrated in tradition and worldview. On this trip, students can acquire 3 CORE First-Year Seminar credits towards their undergraduate degree. With Dr. Leon Chartrand as our guide, we journey into high desert, ponderosa steppes, and canyonlands. We visit ancient Pueblo ruins and reflect on the Anasazi stories expressed in dwelling sites and petroglyphs stories, we rely on Navajo guides to introduce us to a worldview that is ecologically consistent with the story now unfolding through empirical science. We also spend time hiking into the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley Tribal Park.

Enrollment: Maximum 14 | Adventure Level: 1

Where do we go? Region C: Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Painted Desert, Canyon de Chelly and Pueblo Cliff Dwellings, Navajo Nation, Hopi Nation. To learn more about these places, click here

What will we do? Backcountry hiking; campfire storytelling and stargazing; desert and canyon explorations, Pueblo site visits; Apache, Navajo, Hopi Lifeway lessons, river/creek reflections; 4WD van safaris. To learn more, click here.

What courses are offered?

1.  First-Year Seminar: Navajo Nation and Grand Canyon. Professor: Dr. Leon Chartrand [FYS 100, 3 credits, Core Credit] It's all a question of story. It is essential to consider what American Indian wisdom traditions are telling us about our relationship with the other-than-human, the planet and even the Universe. By emphasizing the wisdom from cosmogonic myths like those from the Navajo, Apache and Hopi,  and by drawing upon the knowledge and wisdom of the evolutionary story--the New Story--we aim to help students rediscover the Earth as our primary reality and the Universe as the only self-referent reality. We aim to help students realize that the Universe community, and in particular, Planet Earth, is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects, and that the human is a special mode of conscious self-awareness through which the Universe itself becomes aware of and celebrates itself. And we aim to facilitate this realization by offering Navajo-guided lessons, discussions and reflections in some of the world's most scenic, colorful, majestic places in the Southwest. Throughout this course, we will explore how Navajo stories and rituals have historically provided a visionary guide, a lifeway, for how to live upon the land in a way that is mutually enhancing for the human and the other-than-human. We will, at the same time, explore how, even today, the landscape itself tells the great story, our story, and how this telling reveals the need for re-envisioning a the functional role of the human with regards to the ecological community. And we hope to conclude that it really is a question of having a story that provides a vision for a new era of human-earth relations, a story that welcomes and listens to Navajo voices.

How do I prepare? | What do I bring?

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