Native Americans

Grand Canyon First Peoples


The Anasazi were the first Native Americans living around the Grand Canyon between A.D. 700 to A.D. 1150.

Split Twig Figurines

Split twig figurines have been found that indicate that this Desert Culture Peoples existed 4000 years ago. The Anasazi are descendants of this culture. The figurines resemble bighorn sheep and mule deer which continue to live in the Grand Canyon today.

The Anasazi were hunter-gatherers. They made ornate baskets from the leaves of the Yucca plant. This period is known as the Basket Maker period.

Around A.D. 8000 it is believed that the Anasazi Native Americans started a building phase. This was the beginning of the Pueblo period. Pueblo means “town” in Spanish. At the same time they began to make pottery probably for storage. In addition they began to plant crops and learn about agriculture. Archeologists have found irrigation ditches, granaries and stone tools.Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning enemy ancestor.

Anasazi Granaries, Grand Canyon National Park

During the Basket Maker period, the Anasazi built granaries, shown here, to store and preserve food. As agriculture became more important, nomadic societies were replaced by more complex, sedentary communities. The granaries served as a central location around which communities developed.

The ruins of the Anasazi were discovered in the 19 th century and many have been designated national monuments and World Heritage Centers.The Hopi Native Americans are believed to be modern descendants of the Anasazi.


Navajo hogan

Navajo Indian Weaving Rug

The Navajo migrated to the Grand Canyon area from western Canada and Alaska sometime in the period from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1500. They traveled south and reached the southwestern United States where they settled with the Pueblo Indians.

They learned how to plant corn, beans, and squash as well as the art of weaving. Their homes are called hogans and are made of poles, tree bark and mud.

The Navajo were known as a warlike people. In the 1600s they began to steal sheep and horses from the Spanish. They made clothes, blankets, and rugs from the wool. They also traded these items in the towns. Today there are many trading posts on the reservation which sell rugs, pottery and blankets.

The Navajo reservation is the largest of the Native Americans in the United States with 200,000 people and 16 million acres of land in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. This land is also claimed by the Hopi Indians and remains in dispute today.

The Navajo refer to themselves as the “Dineh” which translates into English as meaning “the people.”

Hopi living room

Hopi Kachina dancer


Hopi means good, peaceful or wise. The Hopi Indians live in northeast Arizona at the southern end of the Black Mesa. They have lived here for over 1000 years.

The Hopi pueblo of Oraibi was settled 800 years ago and is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the United States. This town is 80 miles from the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is considered sacred to the Hopi, who believe that both people and animals emerged from the Grand Canyon at a spring located near the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers.

Katchinas originate with the Hopis. They are considered powerful ancestor spirits who bring rain to help the crops grow. There are over 300 different Kachinas.

Paiute and Wife

Paiute family 1906

Paiuti Pow Wow

Southern Paiute

The name Paiute means “true ute” or “water ute”. The southern Paiute live on the Colorado Plateau where the Great Basin in the southwestern corner of Utah meets. The Southern Paiute entered Utah about 1100 A.D.. They hunted for game on the Kaibab Plateau which is the Grand Canyon's North Rim. They were hunter-gatherers, hunting rabbits,deer and mountain sheep.

They lost much of their land due to the large scale migration of the anglo-european explorers and settlers in the 1840s.

In 1970, the Southern Paiutes received $7.25 million from the United States Government in a lawsuit over tribal lands that had been wrongfully taken.

Havasupai Farmers

Havasupai Family


Havasupai means people of the blue green water.The Havasupai Indians have lived on their land for over 800 years. They are considered nomads, as they used to spend the summer and spring months in the canyon farming, while spending the winter and fall months on the plateau hunting.The Havasupai had access to water so they grew more food than any other tribe in the region. Havasu Creek is one of the most dependable water sources in the Grand Canyon and it was instrumental in helping the Havasupai survive droughts.

In 1882, the US government formed the Havasupai Indian Reservation which consisted of 518 acres of land inside the Grand Canyon. In 1975, the government reallocated 185,000 acres back to the Havasupai. Today the tribe has around 700 members.

Blackfoot family

Hualapai dancers at the Grand Canyon


The Hualapai (WALL-uh-pie), the "People of the Tall Pines," have lived in the Southwest for untold generations. Traditionally their homelands stretched from Grand Canyon to the Bill Williams River in west-central Arizona and from the Black Mountains bordering the Colorado River to the San Francisco Peaks. Primarily nomadic hunter-gathers, they also traded with nearby tribes. The Hualapai Reservation of just less than 1,000,000 acres was established in 1883.

They are neighbors to the Havasupai. They spent most to their time in the forests above the Grand Canyon. Their territory is a 100 mile stretch along the southern side of the Grand Canyon. Their tribal headquarters is located at Peach Springs.Both the Havasupai and the Hualapai consider themselves part of the “pai” culture.

The tribal economy is based on tourism, river-rafting, cattle-ranching, hunting expeditions, and timber-cutting, as well as crafting of traditional and modern folk arts

        A Hualapai elder and spiritual leader named Emmit Bender chants a blessing over the Skywalk

Today the tribe counts about 2,300 members. Peach Springs on Highway 66 is the tribal headquarters. The tribe operates a hotel, restaurant, and gift shop in Peach Springs. While limited ranching, timber harvest, and guided hunts provide some income, the tourist industry offers the best opportunity for employment of tribal members. They have a very high unemployment rate and much poverty. The Skywalk has been an enormous economic help to their tribe.

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