Standing in Awe of the Winged Rock
Shiprock, also known as Tse' Bid' ai', or The Winged Rock/Rock with Wings, is located on Navajo Nation lands in northern New Mexico, USA
Shiprock reaches an impressive 1700 feet out of the flat desert lands in northern New Mexico, USA. This magnificent rock formation, left from an ancient volcanic plume, is sacred to the Navajo Nation as Tse’ Bit’ ai’ or The Winged Rock/Rock with Wings. The name comes from an ancient myth which tells how the rock was once a great bird that transported the ancestral people of the Navajos to their lands. The Navajo ancestors fleeing a war-tribe had crossed a narrow sea far to the northwest but could not outrun the enemy. Tribal shamans prayed to the Great Spirit for help. Suddenly the ground rose from beneath their feet to become an enormous bird. For an entire day and night the bird flew south, finally settling at sundown where Shiprock now stands.
From ancient times, Tse’ Bit’ ai’ has been a pilgrimage place of major importance. When the rock was climbed in 1939, it was taken as a disrespect of the site’s holiness. Finally in 1970 the rock formations were designated as off limits to climbers, and once again accorded the respect due a sacred place.