An area of Grand Canyon National Park has changed its name from one deemed offensive to Native Americans.
The area of the park known as Indian Gardens will now be called Havasupai Gardens following a unanimous vote by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names. The 19-0 vote came after a request from the Havasupai Tribe.
Havasupai Gardens is located along the Bright Angel Trail and is a frequent stop for day hikers and backpackers exploring the park’s backcountry.
“Every year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history,” Chairman Thomas Siyuja, Sr. said in a release. “The renaming of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens will finally right that wrong.”
The history that Siyuja referred to is a National Park Service (NPS) policy instituted about a century ago that forced the tribe, then known as Ha’a Gyoh, from the land. The last tribe resident, known as Captain Burro, was forcibly removed in 1928.
“The eviction of Havasupai residents from Ha’a Gyoh coupled with the offensive name, Indian Garden, has had detrimental and lasting impacts on the Havasupai families that lived there and their descendants,” Siyuja said.
NPS officials are working on updating signs, materials, and the park’s website with the new name.
“The Grand Canyon National Park team was proud to work alongside the Havasupai Tribal Council in our joint effort to rename this culturally significant location at the Grand Canyon,” said Superintendent Ed Keable. “The Havasupai people have actively occupied this area since time immemorial, before the land’s designation as a National Park and until the park forcibly removed them in 1926.
“This renaming is long overdue. It is a measure of respect for the undue hardship imposed by the park on the Havasupai people.”
Once the weather improves in the spring, park officials will join leaders of the tribe for a rededication ceremony.
The Havasupai tribe has lived in the area for more than 1,000 years. Dropping the offensive name is an important step for members of the tribal council.
“I am glad to see that we will always remember and honor the true history of my family’s forced relocation due to the development of the Grand Canyon National Park,” said Carletta Tilousi. “For that reason, honoring our ancestors and remembering our history is also very important to the Havasupai people.”
Getting To Havasupai Gardens
Bright Angel Trail is considered the most popular hiking trail at the Grand Canyon.
Havasupai Gardens is one of the final stops on the trail and is about 9 miles in distance for a round-trip from the trailhead. According to park officials, a round-trip takes between 6 and 9 hours to complete, with an elevation change of a little more than 3,000 feet.
Officials recommend checking with a park ranger before attempting a day hike to the location.
Trips to landmarks on the trail range from about a quarter-mile to 12 miles at the most distant point, Plateau Point, a day hike of 9–12 hours.
“The people of the Havasupai Tribe have always called the vast Grand Canyon and the plateau lands south of it our homeland,” said Siyuja. “The Creator made the Havasupai People the guardians of the Grand Canyon, and this is a role that we take very seriously. We are a small tribe. But our voices and our spirits are large.”
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