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What is the Havasupai Reservation?

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  • Written By: Bethney Foster
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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The Havasupai Reservation is home to the Native American people of the Havasupai tribe. The reservation is located in the western edge of the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Reservation includes the village of Supai, a popular tourist attraction that is accessible only by foot, horseback, or helicopter. Established in 1880, the reservation was enlarged in 1975.

Made up of 188,077 acres (76,112 hectares), the reservation was created by executive orders of the U.S. president that were issued in both 1880 and 1882. The Havasupai are an officially recognized tribe. Once known as the Havasu ‘Baaja, the name translates to “the people of the blue-green waters.”

The Havasupai Reservation is a tourist destination, attracting more than 20,000 visitors each year. Supai Village, the capital of the Havasupai Reservation, is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Located in Coconino County, Arizona, the village is home to about 500 members of the tribe. The town can be accessed only by taking Old U.S. Route 66 and then following BIA Road 18 for about 60 miles (about 97 miles) to the trailhead. From the trailhead, visitors can take a helicopter or hike down to the village.

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In the village, visitors will find a post office, lodge, and general store/trading post. The village also has a café, school, and church. A police station, health clinic, and the offices for the campground are also located in Supai. Alcohol and firearms are banned from the reservation. Visitors are also not allowed to bring pets.

Visitors come to the Havasupai Reservation because of its history and location. It is also noted for its blue-green waterfalls and camping areas. Visitors must bring their own food and water to the campground and carry out their trash.

The Havasupai believe that the Grand Canyon is the origin of humanity, and because of this it is a sacred place. The tribe believes that its people have inhabited the Havasupai Reservation area for more than 700 years. Although visitors are allowed to take photos of the area, they are asked not to photograph the people who live in the village or their homes.

The tribe relies heavily on tourism for its economy. In 1975, Congress reallocated 185,000 acres (74,866 hectares) of the original hunting ground of the Havasupai Reservation to the tribe. The tribe is governed today by a seven-member elected tribal council. A museum and craft store celebrating the traditional culture of the Havasupai people are located on the reservation.

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