Grand Canyon destination renamed ‘offensive’

Editor’s Note: Subscribe to Unlocking the World, Bellegra Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destination openings, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay, and other travel developments. A location in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is shedding its “offensive” name.

Indian Garden, a popular stop along the park’s Bright Angel Trail, will now be called Havasupai Gardens.

The name change is an effort to correct a historical error. Members of the Havasupai tribe, who had been there for generations, were removed from the Inner Rim canyon area by National Park Service policies nearly 100 years ago.

Subsequently, the area Havasupai referred to as Ha’a Gyoh became known as the Indian Garden.

“The Grand Canyon National Park team was proud to work together with the Havasupai Tribal Council in our joint effort to rename this culturally significant place,” Ed Keable, park superintendent, said in a statement.

“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 name change is long overdue. It is a measure of respect for the undue hardship imposed by parking in Havasupai village.”

The timing of the announcement is auspicious, as November is National Native American Heritage Month.

“Each year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history,” tribal Chairman Thomas Siyuja, Sr. said in the statement.

Calling the previous name “offensive,” he added that “the name change of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens will finally correct that mistake.”

The Grand Canyon isn’t the only North American destination making amends for its past by changing names that hurt indigenous communities.

The area administration acknowledged the “racist and sexist” history of the word “squaw” and involved members of the local Washoe tribe in the decision-making process in choosing the new nickname.

In Canada’s Jasper National Park, a group of lodges formerly called Pocahontas Cabins became Miette Mountain Cabins earlier this year.

Parks Canada said it had been working with the Jasper Indigenous Forum, which represents more than 25 groups, to implement the name change.

And there are other reasons why a destination may opt for a new name.

Suicide Six, a ski resort in Vermont, was renamed the Saskadena Six because “the feelings that the word ‘suicide’ evokes can have a significant impact on many in our community.”

Now, it’s the Grand Canyon’s turn to transform.

Signs and other markers are already being changed to reflect the new Havasupai Gardens name. A rededication ceremony is being planned for spring 2023.

“I am glad to see that we will always remember and honor the true story of my family’s forced relocation due to the development of Grand Canyon National Park,” said Carletta Tilousi, a member of the Havasupai Tribe and former council member.

“I hope this historic action will help other tribes take similar steps and reclaim land by renaming places for historic and cultural preservation.”

Top Image: Havasupai Gardens. Credit: Sharon Keating/Adobe Stock