An eagle sleeps in the mountain in this photo by Sam Minkler at the 2011 winter solstice

Eagle Rises from San Francisco Peaks in Spectacular Solstice Shot


Navajo Northern Arizona University photography professor Sam Minkler snapped this Winter Solstice shot of Doko'oosliid, or Abalone Shell Mountain, what are known in modern times as the San Francisco Peaks. As Mother Earth tilts back toward the light after the year's longest night, an eagle can be seen in the cloud-shrouded mountain, the face starting on top, and the eyes just below.

The eagle prompted many medicine ceremonies around the embattled Peaks, which are sacred to no fewer than 13 tribes. It can be seen here why the Peaks, in danger of being covered in treated wastewater for the sake of a ski resort, must not be sullied.

Minkler helps students in Northern Arizona's four-year-photography degree program become chroniclers of their world.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



falconsoars's picture
Submitted by falconsoars on
Amazing and beautiful photo - thank you! I have a question about photography in Northern Arizona and other parts of Indian Country. In the mid 90's my best friend and I took a 10 day driving tour of "Indian Country", as described in a book of that name we used as our guidebook throughout our journey. This was a spiritual quest for us - seeking out, paying our respects to, and communing with as many native sacred sites as possible during our time there. I am an avid amateur photographer, so I took many photos on the trip. But as a professional cultural anthropologist, I am also aware that photography of certain sites is forbidden by some tribes, here and in other parts of the world. The book said that it is taboo to photograph anywhere inside the entire Diné nation in Northeast Arizona, as marked by 4 sacred mountains, one at each corner of the Diné national boundary. I tried to remain respectful of the Diné culture and not photograph while on their land. After I thought we had left the Diné nation, I stopped to take a photo of the desert landscape of the area from the side of the highway. While photographing, an Indian man drove by and shook his fist at me out of his car window. I assumed it was because I was taking a forbidden photo. I'm also assuming that I was either taking a picture of one of the 4 sacred mountains from outside the Diné nation or I was still inside it but didn't know it. I still remain puzzled about this since the only information I had about this was from the guidebook and from the gesture of the Indian man driving by. Were the guidebook and my assumption about why the Indian man angrily gestured at me correct? Is it true that photography within the Diné nation is taboo or is it just taboo to photograph the 4 sacred mountains? How would someone like me, who is trying to be respectful of other cultures, know when it's allowed to photograph a sacred site like this photo of Doko’oosliid and when it's taboo like in the Diné Nation? Thank you!