The Road and the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo

Changes in land use surrounding the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo and a documentation of life on the Road along the way.
Jocelyn Catterson
Missoula, Montana
United States
1 Team Member

What is the project?

This funding will go towards two different projects that I will be carrying out during the Summer of 2013. The first, titled The Road, is an ongoing photography project of mine. The second, titled The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo, is a research project that I will be conducting down in the Four Corners area of the Southwest.


The Road

I grew up in a small town in Colorado and fell madly in love with the mountains. This passion has grown more intense with time and has come to include the desert, the plains, and the rivers, a passion for morning light and deep canyons, the smell of pine trees and hours spent on the road. These things have become the driving force behind my life and my photography. On average, I spend about 5 months out of the year on the Road and have become focused on documenting the connection between man and nature and the simplistic beauty of a life lived in a tent/out of a vehicle. The Road is an ongoing project.

To see previous examples of The Road, visit


The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo

The homeland of the Navajo people encompasses a region near the Four Corners area of the United States that includes parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. According to the creation story of the Navajo, the Holy People formed four sacred mountains that bordered the Navajo homeland or the Diné Bikéyah: Blanca Peak in the East, Mount Taylor in the South, the San Francisco Peaks in the West, and finally Mount Hesperus in the North. These mountains represent the homeland of the Navajo people and are a fundamental part of the foundation of the Navajo culture.

But these mountains are used for purposes other than the spiritual uses of the Navajo. Blanca Peak towers 14,345 feet above sea level and has become an incredibly popular peak to climb because of its status as the 4th tallest mountain in Colorado. The San Francisco Peaks outside Flagstaff, Arizona are now home to the Snowbowl ski and snowboarding resort. Various forms of mountain recreation generate tourism vital to many of the small communities in these areas. The sacred mountains of the Navajo are incredibly important to a plethora of interest groups and are used for a variety of activities.

I am interested in examining how the land use of and surrounding the four Navajo sacred mountains has changed over time, how these places are currently being used, and how these uses have affected/are affecting the sacredness of those places to the Navajo people. My hope is that in discovering how these changes in land use have affected the sacredness of these places, this project will help land managers gain a better understanding of how management decisions affect these sacred places and, in turn, to be more conscientious when making decisions in these areas.

I will be traveling down to the four sacred mountains in order to obtain first hand observations of the effects of the various land uses.


Who am I?

My name is Jocelyn Catterson and I am currently attending the University of Montana for Resource Conservation. I am an avid traveler and photographer based in Missoula, Montana.



The budget for this project includes the money needed for travel during the Summer of 2013. Some places of travel include all of the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo; Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming; Lander, Wyoming; Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado; Glacier National Park, Montana; Shiprock, New Mexico, etc. The total distance traveled from Missoula to all of the sites and back is estimated at about 4,000 miles.

  • Food: $400
  • Gas: $1,000
  • Other materials (camp fees, photo equipment, etc.): $100
  • TOTAL: $1,500


How you can help and why you should

If you are a fan of my photography, this is a great way to help insure that I am able to continue to travel around and produce the work that you are a fan of. Also, the Navajo project will hopefully benefit the Navajo people by forcing land managers to be more contientious when making decisions in these sacred places. Any amount of money really helps the process. If 300 people donated only $5 or 150 people donated $10, I would have enough money to stay on the Road all summer and travel to all of the intended destinations.

Don't have a dime to spare? Just spread the word! Share this page on Facebook, send it to your friends, etc. Everything helps.


Thank you so much!

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raised in 1 month
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$1,500 USD goal
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This campaign ended on June 17, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $5USD

    Receive a little story or update via postcard from one of the places that I travel to during my time on the Road.

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $10USD
    Multiple Postcards

    Receive more than one postcard from my time on the Road. That means more stories and more updates from places throughout the West!

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $20USD
    5x7 Print and Postcard

    A postcard from my time on the Road and a 5x7 print from the project.

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $30USD
    8x10 Print and Postcard

    A postcard and a 8x10 print from the project.

    4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $50USD
    8x10 Print/Multiple Postcards

    Receive multiple postcards and ANY 8x10 print from my website or from the project.

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $100USD

    A postcard, ANY 8x10 print of your choice from my website, and a 5x7 print from the project.

    1 claimed
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