Betatakin, part of Navajo National Monument, occupies a large cave in the north wall of an unnamed south fork of Laguna Canyon,1 which latter empties into Tyende Creek at Marsh Pass.
Betatakin means “House Built on a Ledge” in Navajo.
About 15 miles northeast of the Pass is Kayenta, founded by Wetherill and Colville as a trading post late in 1909 and since grown into an oasis of peculiar charm—the home of several white families, chiefly associated with the local Navajo Indian hospital and its related activities.
It was inhabited by a semisedentary people. Following the so-called Basket Makers, first known agriculturists of the Southwest, came three other equally. distinct stages of tribal and material development to culminate in those great, communal towns of the Pueblo period—Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House.
It was first seen by whites on August 5, 1909, when a Utah University exploring party led by Prof. Byron Cummings and guided by John Wetherill was directed to it by a Navajo Indian, casually met in Segi Canyon.
This Indian pointed the way and then sat down beside the trail to await the party’s return. Through inherent fear of all things associated with the dead, he steadfastly refused to advance within sight of the ruin.
Betatakin has about 120 rooms at the time of abandonment, but today only about 80 rooms remain.