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Experiencing Native American Culture in the Grand Canyon: A Visitor’s Guide

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http://www.scenic.com/tours/indian-country-adventure-and-skywalk | Learn about the Native American peoples, who have inhabited the area in and around the Grand Canyon for centuries, and who still reside there today.

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Experiencing Native American Culture in the Grand Canyon: A Visitor’s Guide

  1. 1. Experiencing Native American Culture in the Grand Canyon: A Visitor’s Guide The area in and around the Grand Canyon has a long and rich Native American history, going back many thousands of years. Today, several tribes and Indian Nations still live in the area. We’ll briefly explore these tribes, including the Havasupai Tribe, the Hualapai Tribe, and the Navajo Tribe, and how visitors can experience a taste of native culture during their visit to the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe Inhabitants of the Grand Canyon for at least 800 years, the Havasupai people have always had a special relationship with the canyon. The Havasupai people are deeply connected to the water and have lived along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for centuries, planting crops and tending orchards in Havasu Canyon (also called Cataract Canyon), in addition to other locations in the canyon. The word “Havasupai” (an anglicized form of “Havasu ‘Baaja”) means “people of the blue-green waters.” The name is a reference to the spectacular pools of water at the base of the waterfalls along Havasu Creek. Havasupai Falls, in particular, are truly spectacular, drawing thousands of visitors every year. While many people opt for a Grand Canyon tour, thousands of visitors hike into Havasu Canyon every year on overnight or multi-night backpacking trips. Only a limited number of people can hike into Havasu Canyon at any given time, and permits are required. The trek begins at Hualapai Hilltop, with a 10-mile (one-way) distance to the campground. An overnight hike is recommended, and a three-day trip is ideal. While it is conceivable to hike to Havasupai Falls and back in one day (a total of around 20 miles roundtrip), this is highly discouraged, as the trail can be hot, dusty, and exposed, easily exhausting hikers. The Hualapai Tribe The Hualapai people live in the mountains of northwestern Arizona, including the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Their name means “people of the tall trees,” a reference to the pine trees among which the Hualapai lived. Historically, the Hualapai were hunters and gathers, occupying a vast area that stretched from the Grand Canyon south to the Santa Maria River and from the Black Mountains east to the San Francisco peaks. Today, many of the tribe’s members live in the capital city of Peach Springs. One of most popular destinations on Hualapai land today is the spectacular Skywalk, an incredible glass-bottom walkway that gives visitors an exhilarating look into the Grand Canyon. A popular way to experience the Skywalk is on Grand Canyon Tours from Las Vegas. The Navajo Nation The Navajo is the largest federally-recognized tribe in the United States, with more than 300,000 enrolled members as of 2011. The Navajo occupy a large area, part of which sits on the outskirts of the Grand Canyon, on the North Rim side of the canyon. Today, more than three-quarters of the Navajo population reside in Arizona and New Mexico, although their territory expands into Utah as well. The Navajo have inhabited the area for many centuries, and have a rich culture that includes much admired silver-working and weaving, most notably in the form of beautiful rugs.
  2. 2. An Enduring Legacy Native American culture and influence are integral parts of what makes the Southwestern U.S. so special and unique. The true original inhabitants of the region, American Indians have lived in the area around the Grand Canyon for thousands of years, and their powerful connection to the land endures today. Company Bio Scenic Airlines is the largest and most experienced aerial tour operator in the world, specializing in charter Grand Canyon airplane tours and Grand Canyon tours. Scenic has pioneered the aerial sightseeing industry since it began tours in 1967. Their Grand Canyon air tours showcase the most impressive landscapes of the National Parks, allowing visitors from all over the world to experience the rich beauty of the Southwest. Scenic offers over 20 unique tours varying from easy and relaxed to adventure expeditions. Tours range from a one-hour, air-only sightseeing flight, to a three-day, two-night program throughout the Southwest. Visit www.scenic.com for tour information or call (800) 634-6801.