The Navajo tradition of sheepherding, once a dawn-to-dusk operation practiced by most families in the tribe, is in decline. Henry Lane, 98, is among the last to herd sheep in the traditional Navajo way.
Henry Lane steers his battered Silverado truck along a rocky path on the western edge of the Navajo Reservation.
He is searching for some wayward animals that have wandered from his flock of 150 sheep, goats and cattle.
The 98-year-old has spent the better part of two hot days in July in his pickup, rolling over rock, dead greasewood and bone-jarring gullies in his quest to find the lost sheep. Lane’s small frame is jostled inside the dusty cab. He clutches the steering wheel with still-powerful hands.
The pickup squeaks and groans, crushing pebbles as it crests a butte. At the top the landscape, covered with snake weed, greasewood and sage, unfolds for miles.
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Lane’s corner of the world is 16 miles west of U.S. 89 and south of Marble Canyon. The stretch of vast open land is part of the reservation’s 27,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona.