F. Ted Henry. Canyon de Chelly

F. Ted Henry, is a jeweler and craftsman who displays and sells his stunning work at the White House Ruin in Canyon de Chelly (Tséyiʼ in Navajo) , Arizona. 

On our annual photo trip this year to the four corners region of the southwest, we met Ted, in Canyon de Chelly. He greeted us warmly “Ya at eeh” and as we were already marveling at his jewelry, offered to show us something special. I feel sure he has shared his story with thousands of other visitors to his display stand at the White House Ruin. In my case, meeting Ted and hearing his story, had a profound effect and will leave a lasting impression. His smiling face and open, friendly nature was beguiling. He asked if I knew who Ansel Adams was? I answered, “I did”. He proceeded to open a coffee table size book to a page of a Navajo woman holding an infant on a cradle board. I am very familiar with the image and recognized it immediately. It is a personal favorite and is synonymous with Canyon de Chelly. I started to get tummy flutters as I anticipated where he might be going with this story. The Navajo tradition of story telling is not wasted on Ted. He dove in to how he first saw the image later in life, when a friend showed him the book with a picture of his mother and infant brother. He didn’t know for so many years that this image by Ansel Adams existed. His story continued until he laid a photo down of his mother made fifty years later, holding the Ansel Adams book open to the pages, in the exact location where he photographed her in 1942. Ted said we were welcome to make a portrait of himself holding the book and the companion photo. His smile and pride were palpable as the light in the canyon. I was quite overwhelmed by his gracious nature and the time in his presence. I made a few images of Ted under one of the cottonwood trees in the reflected light from the canyon walls, and beaming so bright I was glad to be wearing sunglasses. Thanks for looking. G

F. Ted Henry. Canyon de Chelly

Ted’s card shown below says… “Ya at eeh (greetings) – Welcome to the heart of the Navajo Nation, Canyon de Chelly, where Ansel Adams took a photo of my mother Rose Henry holding my brother Ben Henry in a cradle board in 1942 (top). The Bottom photo is 50 years later at the very same spot at the bottom of White House Trail”  And then “Hozhoodoo – In beauty and in harmony”  Teds, website.

F. Ted Henry navajo mother and infant

Here’s the Ansel Adams image

“Navajo Woman and Infant, Canyon de Chelle, Arizona.”
[Canyon de Chelly National Monument], 1933 – 1942.

12 thoughts on “F. Ted Henry. Canyon de Chelly

  1. That’s a great story Geraint!

    I met a woman in Albuquerque who grew up in one of the buildings depicted in Adam’s “Moonrise, Hernandez.” But your encounter is tough to beat.

    Stay well.

    1. Thank you Rob. I think there are, more than likely, hundreds of stories of interactions like this around all the classic images out there. Would be fun to collect them. G

  2. Wow, such a beautiful story of your meeting with this lovely man. All this history and beauty wrapped up in one encounter! Synchronicity and magical, indeed, from the touch of one great photographer to another through the hearts of magnificent human beings. Thank you for sharing your work and life so graciously. ***R

    1. Thank you Ruth. It was such an encounter to cherish. And Teds soul felt as big as the world. Thanks for looking and taking the time to write. G

  3. Dear Geraint,
    What a lovely story and the timing was amazing. I met Teddy last October hiking to White House Ruins and, of course, couldn’t resist buying some of Ted’s jewelry. Fast forward to last month. Your post is dated May 15th. Two day later on the morning of May 17th, I was hiking back up from White House Ruins and who did we meet- Teddy! We were simply sitting, drinking, snacking and enjoying the beautiful view when Teddy rounded the corner. I was startled but not teally surprised because I was carrying his famous post card he had given me last October and I was hoping it would “magically” allow us to run into him. I do think my students were impressed! Needless to say, it was great to catch up with him! Can’t wait until my next hike down the White House Ruins trail.

    1. Thank you Penelope. What a wonderful story and encounter. I would certainly enjoy meeting him again. My first trip to the canyon was during the week between christmas and new year 1985. It was a trip I will always remember. I’ve visited numerous times since but don’t recall meeting Ted previously. I feel sure I would have remembered him. We are looking forward to another trip this time in the fall, recommended by our guide, Ben. Thanks for looking and taking the time to write. G

  4. My wife and I met teddie 10years ago and have purchased many items from him we went to see him 2times and when I got home to Florida my wife had him make a silver bracelet for me with a lot of history of the Navajo nation history on it. He took the time to write down what each symbol means and I am delighted with it he is the best and I hope to see him again one day!

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