Farmington — A new publication examines three places in the Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter through the perspective of its residents.

"Moving Across the Landscape" guides reader through Pinabete Arroyo, Wild Ram Spring and Cottonwood Wash while giving an account of the archaeology, people, economy, homes and social change.

Black and white photographs from residents and the Farmington Museum are used in the book to show how Navajos lived in the chapter land throughout the years.

Yolanda Benally, tribal relations specialist with BHP Billiton, helped develop the 37-page publication.

Benally, a member of Nenahnezad Chapter, grew up near the Four Corners Power Plant. After earning a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from Northern Arizona University and a master's degree from Vermont Law School, she started working with BHP Billiton in 2007.

One of her first assignments was managing the archaeologists working at Navajo Mine.

That work was her first exposure to archaeology.

When the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department informed Benally that a publication would be developed about the area, it was exciting news.

"I was impressed by the project," she said. "They wanted to tell the story from a Navajo perspective rather than the Western teachings."

Although the historic preservation department spearheaded the project, it was a collaborative effort between Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants and BHP Billiton, which funded the writing and production of the publication.

Benally said the overall goal was to preserve the oral traditions and history of the area from the community members and also to find out why the residents decided to live there.

One step of the process was compiling information from the ethnography that was done about the area.

Because the ethnography contained detailed information about residents, such as names, that information was removed from the publication.

"It would be a source of information and something that could be treasured by the community because a lot of places, they don't have the history," Benally said.

In addition to the ethnography and oral history, the publication includes information from previous studies about the area.

"It gives us first-hand knowledge from our own people, rather than depending on others to tell us how we came to this place," Benally said.

For Benally, she learned more details about the area she calls home, including how the area was once a busy corridor with wild rams and sheep roaming the land.

The publication will be unveiled today at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock.

In the upcoming weeks, Benally will travel to the chapters of Nenahnezad, San Juan, Tiis Tsod Sikaad and Upper Fruitland to distribute copies of the publication.

Copies will also be available to local school districts.

For those who are interested in reading the publication, a website has been developed that contains the same information as the book. That information is available at


What: Public presentation for “Moving Across the Landscape”

When: 1 p.m. today

Where: Navajo Nation Museum, Highway 264 and Loop Road, Window Rock, Ariz.

More info:

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.