TSOODZIL (MOUNT TAYLOR)
At 11,306 feet, Tsoodzil (Mount Taylor) is the highest peak in the San Mateo range, located about 15 miles northeast of Grants. Geologically, Mount Taylor is a dormant stratovolcano. During the Spanish rule of the region, the mountain was called Cebolleta (little onion). In 1849, after the U.S.-Mexico War, it was renamed after President Zachary Taylor. For the indigenous peoples of the area, Mount Taylor is a revered and spiritually significant location. In Navajo it is known as Tsoodzil (Turquoise Mountain) and is one of the four sacred mountains that mark the Navajo homeland.
In Diné Bahaneʼ (The Navajo creation story), it is said that the creator placed the Diné on land between four mountains, representing the four cardinal directions. The are the Dził Diyinii Dį́į’go Sinil – The Four Sacred Mountains in Diné bizaad (the Navajo language):
Blanca Peak, the sacred mountain of the east – Sisnaajiní, “the dawn,” or “white shell mountain.” Associated with the color white.
Mount Taylor, the sacred mountain of the south – Tsoodził, “turquoise mountain,” or “blue bead.” Associated with the color blue.
San Francisco Peak, the sacred mountain of the west. – Dook’o’oosłííd, “the summit which never melts” or “abalone shell mountain.” Associated with the color yellow.
Hesperus Mountain, the sacred mountain of the north – Dibé Nitsaa, “big sheep.” Associated with the color black.