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The Havasupai Indians are a Native American tribe that has lived in the Grand Canyon for hundreds of years. The tribe is also know as the Havasu ’Baaja people, which means people of the blue and green waters. The Havasupai are a widely-known tribe of Arizona Indians that attract thousands of tourists each year.
Most Havasupai Indians live in the Cataract Canyon. Throughout the tribe's history, gathering, hunting, and agriculture were used for the Havasupai peoples' survival. Before the Grand Canyon was listed as a National Park, their land was made up of abundant vegetation and pristine waterfalls, enabling them to utilize these resources in their day to day living.
Because of their reliance on the Earth's cycles to meet their needs, Havasupai Indians moved during different seasons in order to take advantage of the living spaces safest from the elements. The plateau of the Grand Canyon was used during winter months, during which the tribe would rely on hunting for sustenance. During the summer, the tribe would re-enter the canyon itself to cultivate their crops.
Many scientists and historians consider the ability of the tribe to maintain an agricultural system in the uneven area an impressive feat. Havasupai Indians used an irritation system that was considered technologically advanced for its time. The tribe grew numerous crops, including sunflowers, corn, gourds, squash, beans, and cotton.
Yuman is the official language of these Native Americans. Less than 600 people can speak this dialect today. It is, however, the only language spoken by Native American tribes in the United States that is used completely by its indigenous members. The language is similar to that of the Hualapai tribe.
One of the smallest Indian nations in the United States, the Havasupai Indians govern their people through a seven-member tribal council. Elections are led by a single chairman, and held every two years. Tribal council members elect this chairman, and the Havasupai people elect the council members democratically. Law enforcement of the tribe is executed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, while Havasupai health needs are met by the Indian Health Service clinic.
Tribal children attend school for eleven months of the year. Upon graduating the eighth grade, they are usually sent to a government boarding school. Tribal women are famous for their baskets and other crafts, which are often sold to tourists.
Prior to 1812, the tribe occupied an area the size of Delaware; they were forced off most of their land by the United States government that year. Silver mining, railroad development, and the listing of the Grand Canyon as a National Park led to the destruction of much of their remaining lands. In 1975, the Native Americans fought Congress and won back much of their land.