ship rock

Situated in northwestern New Mexico, Shiprock Peak is an ancient volcanic neck, exposed by erosion, which looms almost 1,400 feet above the surrounding land. The rock itself is composed almost entirely of volcanic material, while the nearby land consists of nearly horizontal sedimentary layers. In Navajo, the peak is called Tsé Bit ’A’í, “The Rock with Wings.” In a creation story, Navajos relate that this rock brought their ancestors through the air from the north and landed on the site, which thereafter marked their land. Near the end of Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, it is described as “the figure of a one-masted fishing-boat under full sail, and the white man named it accordingly.”

Arthur Sze