Indigenous Peoples: Havasupai

havasupai childrenThe Havasu ’Baaja (the-people-of-the-blue-green-waters), or more commonly the Havasupai, are an Indigenous Nation (“American Indian tribe”) that has called the Grand Canyon its home for centuries.

Located primarily in an area known as Cataract Canyon, this Yuman-speaking population once laid claim to a land reservation the size of Delaware. In 1882, however, the Havasupai was forced by the US government to abandon all but 518 acres of its land. The Havasupai witnessed a silver rush and the Santa Fe Railroad in effect destroyed what was fertile land. Furthermore, the inception of the Grand Canyon as a National Park in 1919 pushed the Havasupai to the brink, as their land was consistently being unlawfully entered and misused by the National Park Service.

Over the next century the tribe used the United States judicial system to fight for the restoration of the land. In 1975, after years without progress, the tribe succeeded in regaining 251,000 acres of their ancestral land with the passage of Congressional bill S. 1296.

Besides their battle on Capitol Hill, the Havasupai are well-known for the area in which they reside. As a means of surviving and flourishing in the modern economy the tribe has turned its land, which consists of richly colored waters and awe-inspiring waterfalls, into a bustling tourist hub that attracts thousands of people every year.

Adapted from Wikipedia’s article on the Havasupai People

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