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Grand Canyon location changes its 'offensive' name to pay respect to local tribe

Grand Canyon location changes its 'offensive' name to pay respect to local tribe

The new name is an attempt to 'right a wrong'

A ‘culturally significant location’ within Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is changing its ‘offensive’ name to ‘finally right that wrong’.

In a statement, the Park Service said it was righting a historic wrong with the name change, which has been announced during National Native American Heritage Month.

The area is a popular stop within the Grand Canyon National Park's Bright Angel Trail and was formerly known as Indian Garden, but now National Park Service has said it will be renamed Havasupai Gardens.

The park’s superintendent Ed Keable said: "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.

"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."

Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.
Tom Grundy / Alamy Stock Photo

The area had originally been called Ha’a Gyoh, and had been home to members of the Havasupai tribe for generations, until the National Park Services policies came in and forced them out - the final Havasupai resident, Captain Burro, was forcibly removed in 1928.

Chairman Thomas Siyuja, Sr added: “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.

“Every year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history. The renaming of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens will finally right that wrong.”

He added: “The people of the Havasupai Tribe have always called the vast Grand Canyon and the plateau lands south of it our homeland.

The area is popular with hikers.
Christian B. / Alamy Stock Photo

“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.”

Efforts are already underway to update signs, websites and other materials with the new name.

The National Park Service and the Havasupai tribe are currently working together on a renaming ceremony for spring next year.

Havasupai tribe and former council member Carletta Tilousi said: “I hope this historic action will help other Tribes take similar steps and reclaim lands back by changing place names for historic and cultural preservation purposes.”

Featured Image Credit: Bill Gozansky / Michele Falzone / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: US News