Exploring Parks and National Landmarks on Tribal Lands

   By Moderator

June is National Camping Month and families are taking advantage of warmer weather to get outdoors and explore, both near and afar. Many people who flock to nearby campgrounds, hiking trails, and natural landmarks don’t always realize the history of the lands they’re visiting.

If you are planning to visit any national parks this summer, consider exploring some of these natural landmarks rich in Native American history and significance.

Havasupai Falls

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is considered one of America’s most remote Indian reservations, surrounded entirely by the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The Havasupai people primarily reside in Supai Village, which is situated at the base of Cataract Canyon. Havasupai, meaning “people of the blue-green waters,” features spectacular waterfalls that attract thousands of visitors each year. The destination has become increasingly popular for avid hikers and adventure seekers, resulting in the tribe’s shift to scheduling online reservations for camping. Visitors should plan to make their reservations for camping or the lodge well in advance.

Legend Rock

The Legend Rock petroglyph site is located near Hot Springs State Park in Wyoming features nearly 300 individual petroglyphs (rock carvings) that showcase ancient figures. These are some of the oldest examples of rock art dating as far back as 3,000 years. The nearby town of Thermopolis, Wyoming claims the world’s largest mineral hot spring — The Big Spring. Located on the Wind River Indian Reservation but open to the public, these springs are part of a treaty signed with the Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes.

Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito is the largest ancestral pueblo in the Southwest, situated within the Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico. The structure known as “Great House” was constructed sometime between 850 A.D. and 1150 A.D. The Chaco Canyon area was first inhabited in the middle of the ninth century and was home to Anasazi Indian tribes who inhabited the area until the thirteenth century. The site became a national monument in 1907 and still holds significance for many tribes today.

Four Corners Monument

This well-known attraction is located close to Aztec, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation and in one spot connects the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. A brass cap marks the site where an individual can stand in all four states at once, attracting tourists year-round. The Navajo Nation oversees the monument, and the surrounding area is remote, with no running water, electricity or telephones.

PWNA has become familiar with each of these areas. Some of the most remote Native communities reside near national or state parks and historic monuments. Through our year-round service to 60 reservations, including the Navajo Nation, PWNA is championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans across the Southwest and Northern Plains. If you’re visiting a national park or landmark this summer, we encourage you to study the history and people of the area and respect the land.

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