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Grand Canyon Destination Changes Its ‘Offensive’ Name

A location in the Grand Canyon National Park is changing its ‘offensive’ name.
Credit: Alamy

A popular destination in the Grand Canyon National Park is changing its ‘offensive’ name.

A number of products, venues and sports teams have altered their names in recent years after the Black Lives Matter movement put a spotlight on racism in society.

For instance in 2020, rice brand Uncle Ben’s changed its name to Ben’s Original after being criticised for ‘racial stereotyping’.

While in the UK, brewery Greene King changed the name of Linlithgow pub, The Black B****, as locals and ex-SNP first minister Alex Salmond deemed it to be ‘possibly racist’.

After 350 years under its original name, the pub was rebranded as The Willow Tree.

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Some US sports teams also recently changed their names following widespread recognition of systemic racism in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

NFL team Washington Redskins changed its name to Washington Commanders, while baseball’s Cleveland Indians changed its name to become the Cleveland Guardians.

Now, Indian Garden, a popular stop on the Grand Canyon National Park’s Bright Angel Trail, will be renamed the Havasupai Gardens.

According to a statement from Grand Canyon management, the name change is an attempt to right a historic wrong. 

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Members of the Havasupai tribe, who had lived and worked there for generations, were removed from the inner rim canyon area by National Park Service’s policies around 100 years ago.

After this, the area, referred to as Ha’a Gyoh by the tribe, became known as the Indian Garden.

Ed Keable, the park’s superintendent, said: “The Grand Canyon National Park team was proud to work alongside the Havasupai Tribal Council in our joint effort to rename this culturally significant location.

“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 renaming is long overdue. It is a measure of respect for the undue hardship imposed by the park on the Havasupai people.”

Havasupai Gardens
An area of the Grand Canyon has been renamed Havasupai Gardens. Credit: NPS Photo & K Pitts

November is National Native American Heritage Month, so the timing of this announcement is particularly profound.

Thomas Siyuja Sr, tribe chairman, added: “Every year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history.”

He labelled the previous name ‘offensive’, before saying that the ‘renaming of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens finally rights that wrong’.

Signs are already being changed to reflect the new Havasupai Gardens name at the site, and a rededication ceremony is set for spring 2023.

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

“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.”

The Grand Canyon is not the only North American destination trying to make amends for its chequered history by changing names that are hurtful to Indigenous communities.

Olympic skiing venue, California’s Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows resort, changed its name to Palisades Tahoe last year.

Management of the resort acknowledged that the word ‘squaw’ was ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’.

They involved the local Washoe tribe when deciding on a new name for the area.

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