Arizonan View: Tsé Bit’Aí
Posted on July 3, 2010
This was the first view at that magnificent monolith the Diné call Tsé Bit’Aí, or the Rock with Wings. Hiking high up in the Chuska Mountains I could see why legend tells these are the petrified remains of a giant bird. It is said that this is the bird that brought the Diné from the north to the Dinetah, their current homeland. It crashed here, in the middle of a rock desert in Four Corners and turned to stone.
Getting closer to Tsé Bit’Aí I encountered some of the more gruesome sides of this beautiful land. Bones, bleached by the unrelenting sun, and left on red earth reminded me that life and death were ever so close to each other. The bones also reminded me of the Diné legend of Tsé Ninájálééh, Bird Monsters, that nested on the peak of Tsé Bit’Aí. These Tsé Ninájálééh fed on human flesh and I hesitated hiking further and closer to the rock. You just never know.
But, when I plucked up courage and crossed the desert, I was rewarded with an eery experience. Tsé Bit’Aí is not just spectacular in its beauty, its magnitude overpowers you in an spine-chilling sort of way. Words, even spoken in the softest whisper, echo in that multitude of caves and crevices, and come back to you as if a hidden crowd of thousands call out to you, luring you closer and up to that peak where the Tsé Ninájálééh wait for you to feast on your flesh.