Tuba City in northern Arizona is on the western edge of the Navajo Indian Reservation, also known as the Navajo Nation, and has a reported population of 8,225 by the 2000 United States Census. It's located in the painted desert on the Colorado Plateu in Northern Arizona, about 70 miles north of Flagstaff and 60 miles east of the Grand Canyon. Being located well within the confines of the Navajo Nation, the vast majority of Tuba's inhabitants are of direct Navajo descent, with about 6% being non-Navajo. Those who are not Navajo (or Hopi, who populate an area adjacent to Tuba City, called Moenkopi), work for the Indian Health Service through a contract with the US government.

As for entertainment, you are going to be depending on the outdoors. Unfortunately, mountain biking is poor due to the loose sand everywhere, but it is doable if you are determined and fit (and you can find some very sweet, Moab-esque slickrock if you look). Rock climbing is also a no-go, save for certain areas, because it is nearly all sandstone, which I discovered, no matter how badly you want to climb, won't work. Running is great, as Tuba is a very quiet place, and the early morning and evening sun is absolutely gorgeous cast upon the rock formations. Outside of Tuba (within a two hours' drive), you have acces to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Lake Powell, Lee's Ferry, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Four Corners National Monument, and a myriad of others.

Some assorted facts about Tuba City (and, I suppose, the rez in general):

  • Every Friday there is an open-air flea market where you can purchase many fine works of art and craft, often from the creator themselves. It is easy to find, but you will still need to ask someone for directions. You can purchase all types of art such as handmade rugs, jewelry, flutes, and herbs. Also available are Navajo Tacos, Blue Corn Mush, Fry Bread, and the infamous Aichee. I would highly recommend checking this out if you are in the area. As an aside, I would suggest NOT purchasing anything at "Chief Yellowhorse" on the side of highway 89, it is a ripoff (as you may have guessed by the signs).
  • There are a few places to view authentic dinosaur tracks. The first (and easiest to find) are the "Dinosour Tracks" (spelled incorrectly on a painted sign) about 5 miles east of highway 89, on 160; or conversly, 10 miles west of Tuba itself. When you pull in, you will see a small shack, where someone will offer you a tour, which can either be free or up to 10 dollars. I would opt out of the tour personally, as the tracks are literally right there. There are two other places to view some, which are on the other side of the road, and they are rather difficult to locate. There are also some past the reservoir viewable from Honovi Drive. It would be advisable to find someone to help you locate those if you were serious about seeking them out, as directions are nearly impossible to give.
  • The post office. It's always packed. There is no mail delievery, so everyone has a PO box. Expect to wait in line if you have to do anything there.
  • Some estimate that "Tuba City" comes from the Hopi word "Tonanesdizi", meaning "tangled waters", probably referring to Tuba's many springs located underground.
  • The sale and possession of alcohol is strictly prohibited. This doesn't just apply to residents or the Navajo, it applies to any and all who are on the reservation. It's also helpful to know that, if you are an anglo, and get into trouble here, you can look forward to dealing with a very cumbersome bureaucracy (though they are most likely to just confiscate your contraband).
  • If you venture out into the desert at all, on the "roads", you will most likely notice a lot of garbage everywhere. Items ranging from little dolls and car batteries, to refrigerators and entire vehicles. This may lead you to believe there is no garbage disposal service; you would be wrong. There is in fact a dump, which happens to be free for all to use. As to why there is all the waste out there, I have yet to find out.

If you want more information, there is an faq for the Navajo Nation at http://navajocentral.org/faq02b.htm

Update: 10 hours after creation. Tuba City is in fact NOT the capitol of the Navajo Nation; Window Rock, Arizona is. Tuba City IS the headquarters for the Western Navajo Agency (which is how I got mixed up). I apologize for any misunderstandings and/or misinformation this may have caused.

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