‘Offensive’ Grand Canyon hiking trail renamed by local authorities

The trail lies close to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The trail lies close to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

US authorities have made the decision to change the name of a stop on a popular Grand Canyon hiking trail, which has long been deemed offensive by indigenous American communities.

The Indian Garden hiking trail, which lies near the Canyon’s North Rim, was renamed Havasupai Gardens, the National Park Service said on Tuesday.

The US Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously 19-0 to change the name, after the indigenous Havasupai Tribe put in a formal request to have it renamed.

The Havasupai Gardens campground and rest stop lies along the Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail. The Grand Canyon Trust describes it, saying: “To get there, you have to hike two-thirds of the way into the Grand Canyon…with all your gear.

“But the canyon views make the trip worthwhile — the white, rose and rust-colored rock layers record millions of years of the earth’s history and create the perfect backdrop for your campsite.”

The area, which had originally been named Ha’a Gyoh by the tribe, had been contested ground after the NPS forcibly removed tribe members living there, with the last departing in 1928.

“The eviction of Havasupai residents from Ha’a Gyoh coupled with the offensive name, Indian Garden, has had detrimental and lasting impacts on the Havasupai families that lived there and their descendants,” said a representative for the Havasupai tribe, chairman Thomas Siyuja Sr.

“Every year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history. The renaming of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens will finally right that wrong.”

“I hope this historic action will help other tribes take similar steps and reclaim lands back by changing place names for historic and cultural preservation purposes,” added Carletta Tilousi, another tribe member.

The NPS said it will collaborate with the Havasupai on a rededication ceremony, slated to take place in early spring 2023.

The name change will be reflected on updated signage, maps and National Park materials.