To the tribes the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River are cultural landscapes and spiritual places. The area is considered a sacred source of minerals, plants, animals, and water. (Click on underlined tribal names to visit tribal websites.)
The Havasupai and Hualapai consider the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River to be their homeland. They are the stewards of the canyon and the Colorado River is the backbone (Ha’yitad) of their lifeline. Traditionally, they use springs, plants, and animal resources within the Grand Canyon. Historically, they used well-established seasonal camps in the Grand Canyon region.
To the Hopi and Zuni people, the Grand Canyon is their place of emergence into this world. For the Hopi the Grand Canyon is also the origin of several clans and provided the Hopi people with several minerals including salt and hematite. Zuni traditions place their emergence near Ribbon Falls. Afterward, they began their search for the “Middle Place” (Idiwana’a), which is the current home for Zuni along the Zuni River.
For the Diné the Grand Canyon forms a protective boundary to the west. The Grand Canyon is part of the Diné landscape and contains important plants and animals that are part of traditional and ceremonial practices. The Colorado River and Little Colorado River are thought of as male and female beings, respectively.
The Southern Paiute bands have always lived seasonally in the Grand Canyon’s region taking advantage of the resources available in late winter and spring. To them, the canyon in its entirety is a living, sacred place (Puaxantu Tuvip) that should be treated respectfully and sacredly through offerings and prayers.
The Yavapai-Apache were traditionally traveling hunters and gardeners who took seasonal advantage of the canyon’s resources.