Indians or Native Peoples of the Grand Canyon area

My first visit to a pueblo was several years ago at Mesa Verde in Arizona.  Pueblos are multi-room dwellings made of clay and the ones at Mesa Verde were built in the clefts of a canyon wall. The native people who lived there were most likely Anasazi, who left the area in the 1300’s A.D. during years of drought. They vanished, leaving behind these remarkable dwellings. They were named Anasazi, or Ancient Ones by the Navajo people north of the canyon.  It is an amazing place to visit.

There were different tribes of the pueblo peoples who inhabited the Grand Canyon, most of whom were semi-nomadic farmers and hunter gatherers. They traveled back and forth from rim to lower canyon to rim, depending on the season. Many of their trails are still present and used by visitors. Indian Gardens is a campground on the Bright Angel Trail but was once an area farmed by the Havasupai tribe.

Presently, one place to experience Native American culture is on the Havasupai Reservation in Havasu Canyon. That is one part of the canyon that my brother has not visited yet and still hopes to. We tried to get reservations to visit there last year but could not. The Havasupai have their own tourist bureaus and quotas of visitors. I love what their name means – “people of the blue-green water”.  They and the Walapai tribe (“people of the pine tree”) live in the western region of the South Rim.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk, on what is called the West Rim of the canyon, is actually on the Hualapai Reservation and outside of Grand Canyon National Park. It is an amazing cantilever bridge, out from the cliff in a horseshoe shape, and 4000 feet above the canyon floor.  Add to that a glass walkway and you have a real tourist attraction.  I have seen pictures of people who became paralyzed with anxiety as they looked down and had to be carried off the walkway. 

There is a lot of controversy within the Hualapai tribe and outside of the tribe concerning this bridge. There are people on the environmentalist side who aren’t sure it’s a good way to preserve the canyon. There are others on the practical side who feel the bridge is a way to raise money for serious needs of the tribe. It’s complicated.

The Hopi people live in the eastern section of the South Rim, and to the southeast are the Zuni tribes. North of the canyon is the Paiute Reservation in the west and the Navajo Reservation in the east. The Navajo were latecomers to the region and lived in the canyon itself only in the 1860’s when being pursued by the U.S. Cavalry. In addition to farming and herding, many of the tribes are craftsmen/women in cloth weaving, basketry, pottery and jewelry making.  You’ve probably heard of Navajo blankets and rugs, right?

6 thoughts on “Indians

  1. I love the canyon lands. Its a toss up with me, canyon lands or the ocean! Since we were both fishermens the ocean won out. Id move back to Cortez area if it wasnt 7000′ elevation, and being so far from
    family. BTW…Mesa Verde is in Colorado…not Arizona. I loved that place. .

  2. The first time I heard of Navajo was in my seventh grade when I accidentally stumbled upon a Harold Robbins book (it didn’t have a cover and I was hungry for a book as it was summer vacation). The Indians have a fascinating history and I loved reading this, Shirley! I would love to visit a settlement sometime.

    Thank you for coming by my blog at

    • I agree. I must say that some of it leaves me feeling bad for the tribes in their present situation. I live near a reservation in Wisconsin and see that their problems are similar.

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