Museum of Northern Arizona exterior


Havasupai means “People of the blue-green water.” Traditionally, the Havasupai people have divided their time between Havasu Canyon, inside the Grand Canyon, and the Coconino Plateau, which extends from the Grand Canyon’s south rim. Their name is derived from a creek of blue-green water that flows through the Canyon. They are one of the tribes that make up the Upland Yuman culture.

The Havasupai are traditionally a cyclically migratory culture, hunting, gathering and trading in the winter, and farming corn, beans, squash, and tobacco in irrigated fields in the summer months. They lived this way for centuries until 1918.

With the creation of Grand Canyon National Park in 1919, the tribe was restricted to a small reservation on the canyon bottom, eliminating their cyclical migrations. The Havasupai fought the United States government, who, in 1975, eventually returned 251,000 acres of their land.  Today, many Havasupai people have begun to revive their cyclical migration pattern, by moving to plateau homes in the winter from their homes in the canyon. They are traditional guardians of the Grand Canyon, and tourism to the region provides much of their income.