The rocky, high desert country of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah makes survival a challenge for the plants, animals and people in this region. But where canyon streams and springs are found, there is an abundance of life. Matungwa'va (Yellow Dripping Rock), or Pipe Spring is such a place.
Springs form when snow melt and rain water very slowly soak through upper, porous layers of rock such as sandstone. When the water hits shale, or other non-porous layers, its downward trek is stopped and it flows horizontally until it flows out of the ground. At Pipe Spring, the water moves through light-colored Navajo and reddish Kayenta sandstone formations. When the water hits Moenkopi shales, uplifted along the Sevier Fault, it changes course and is forced out at the base of the cliff.
Water and People
The E'nengweng (Old Ones) to the Paiutes, built permanent pueblos,farmed and hunted near the spring. The mobile Kaibab Paiutes lived at Matungwa'va and other springs along the base of the Vermillion Cliffs.They planted corn, beans and squash near these permanent water sources and always returned to them after hunting and gathering trips.
A man owned a little land around a spring and lived there with his relatives and friends. If someone else came around he could camp there too; a man liked to have company. He liked to move around and change springs too; he knew where he wanted to camp. But if he moved away, he would come back later to his own spring. When a man died they moved the camps but did not leave the spring.
Kaibab Paiute elder, ca. 1932