FARMINGTON — A visitor at the Four Corners National Monument caused a stir Tuesday when the woman dumped human ashes near the point where four states meet.

The park, like all six Navajo tribal parks, alerts visitors at the entrance and on its website that it is against the Navajo people's cultural beliefs to dispose of human remains on Navajo land, said Geri Hongeva, a spokeswoman for the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department.

The incident Tuesday afternoon troubled the 50 or so vendors who sell items near the monument because many are elderly and traditional Navajo people, said Victoria Dee, the park manager at the Four Corners National Monument.

Dee said the person who spread the remains was a young female from Texas.

She declined to say what happened to the woman or if any further action will stem from the incident.

Parks employees invited a Navajo medicine man to the park for a cultural ceremony late Tuesday to cleanse the area. Additional ceremonies may be needed because of the incident but it will not affect park hours, Dee said.

"This is not the first time it has happened," Dee said. "It has happened before, and with our cultural beliefs it's taboo. Especially with cremated remains."

Tuesday's incident was the third known time when a visitor dumped human ashes at the monument since the park opened after a remodeling project two years ago, Dee said.

It is surprisingly common for park visitors to ask to dump cremated ashes of loved ones on the monument, Dee said.


Advertisement

The park always denies the requests, she said. Navajo tradition prohibits cremation.

"A lot of visitors don't know they are on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation and some things they think are OK are not," Dee said. "I wish they would ask first and we would let them know it is prohibited."

Hongeva said spreading human ashes is against the rules and clearly posted at all six Navajo Tribal Parks. The topic occasionally becomes an issue at many of the breathtaking, scenic places throughout the Nation.

The woman who poured ashes at the site Tuesday, when asked by park officials, said she scattered the remains at the monument at the request of the deceased person, Dee said.

"For some particular reason the Four Corners (Monument) is the one getting it the most," Hongeva said. "We don't know why."