The Havasupai Nation may just be one of the most popular Native American nations in the country, because at its heart sits Havasu Falls, a long-term hiker’s paradise and recent darling of Instagram. But this little country within a country is also home to a thriving culture oft-forgotten in the rush to take the perfect picture. Whether you are planning your trip to Havasupai, or are just on a quest to learn more about the native people of the United States, we hope to provide you with the resources to start learning more. First stop, the official website of the Havasupai Tribe.
Type: Native American Reservation
Region: Arizona, North America
Languages: Havasupai, English
Population: 730 (2017)
Currency: US dollar
The Havasupai reservation consists of Havasu Canyon and its beautiful waterfalls, as well as the plateau to the south of the canyon. Its boundaries to the north end just at the edge of the Grand Canyon National Park. Thus, this is a land full of beautiful vistas and an array of ecosystems. Travelers from all over the world trek into the heart of Havasupai land to see the brilliant blue waters of Havasu (which literally means blue-green water).
This unique landmark is all thanks to the calcium carbonate in the water which gives it its color and helps form the otherworldly travertine formations that make the waterfalls so special. Besides the glittering oasis, Havasupai lands are home to beautiful riparian areas, as well as the sweeping deserts that you can see while trekking into the canyon. On the plateau above it all, where the Havasupai people traditionally spend the winter, higher elevation scrub forests, grasslands, and pine forests can be seen by visitors as they drive to the trailhead.
Our Guide to Exploring Havasupai Falls will give you the low-down on what you need to do to visit, and also has a plethora of pictures from the canyon showcasing the beauty of the Havasupai Reservation.
History and Culture
The Havasupai people have called the Grand Canyon home for ages. In many respects they are the heart of the place that the whole world has fallen in love with. However, like most, if not all Native American people, the United States government has not made it easy for them to keep their lands and maintain their culture. Before the creation of the Grand Canyon National park in 1919, the Havasupai people spent summers in Havasu Canyon and the Grand Canyon and then moved up onto the Coconino Plateau in the winters. US National Parks were not envisioned with people still living in them (no matter how long those people had been a part of that landscape). So the coming of the National Park gave the US government a chance to hem in the Havasupai people.
Initially, their reservation only included Havasu Canyon, and even parts of that were used by the park service for campers. In fact, the original Havasu campsite was built by the US park service over a Havasupai graveyard. Without the space to live traditionally or the resources to even survive, the Havasupai people fought to regain access to the Coconino Plateau as well as the falls. It wasn’t until 1975 that the US government finally granted them a larger piece of land which included access to land outside of the canyon. Since then, the Havasupai people have continued to fight for their rights to maintain their land and way of life.
If you want to learn more about this story, I suggest reading I Am The Grand Canyon by Stephen Hirst.
If you know of more good resources, particularly from the Havasupai themselves, please let us know and we will add them here.
Our Guide to Havasupai will give you the full low-down on how to visit this beautiful Native American Nation.