Chinle, near the geographic center of the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona, is at the entrance to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Chinle became a center for population growth and trade after 1868 when the United States signed a treaty with the Navajos. The first trading post was established in 1882, the first mission in 1904, and the first government school in 1910.Today the community, at an altitude of 5,082 feet, has been designated one of the major “growth centers” on the Navajo Reservation by the tribal government. It is an important trade, administrative, and educational center within the Chinle Chapter (a local government unit) and is headquarters for the Chinle Agency, one of five Bureau of Indian Affairs administrative jurisdictions on the reservation.
The largest number of jobs in Chinle are in public services, administration and educational services. Commercial industries, serving a market area of more than 34,000 people, represents a growing sector in the Chinle economy. Phases I and II of the 65,000-square-footTseyi Shopping Center are occupied by Basha’s Supermarket, General Store, Chinle Post Office, Rent-A-Flik, Elite Laundromat and Dry Cleaning, Pizza Edge, Taco Bell, Norwest Bank, Burger King, Allied Medical Supply, Balloons and Gifts, Social Security Administration, AHCCCS, Soil Conservation Service and a chiropractor’s office. Newly constructed retail and office space is available for lease. Phase III expansion plans include a major department store and additional stores and offices. All of Apache County is a designated Enterprise Zone. Increased tourism is expected and plans for additional motels, campgrounds, and cultural facilities are under consideration.
Canyon de Chelly, a geological and historical wonder, is Chinle's greatest scenic attraction. The Canyon was a Navajo stronghold during Colonel Kit Carson's Navajo Campaign and was designated a National Monument in 1931. Evidence of Indian habitation as early as 2000 B.C. is found in artifacts and prehistoric cliff dwellings. As the angle of the sun changes, the colors in the rock formations change from brilliant red-browns to orange, pink, and even purple. Thirty miles south of Chinle lies Ganado, site of Arizona's most famous Indian trading post, Hubbell's. In operation for nearly a century, it has been designated a National Historic Site. At Hubbell's and other trading posts on the reservation, the famed handcrafted Navajo silver jewelry and hand-woven woolen rugs may be purchased. Trout, bass, and catfish fishing is excellent at nearby lakes. Other area attractions include Window Rock, headquarters of the Navajo Tribe; the Painted Desert; Petrified Forest National Monument; Monument Valley; and the Hopi Indian Reservation.