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Nestled 3,000 feet deep into Havasu Canyon lies the land of the Havasupai (ha-va-soo-pie). The area is known around the world for its blue waters and spectacular water falls. The Havasupai share their name with the area, Ha (water) vasu (blue) and pai (meaning people). Havasu Canyon is a part of the Grand Canyon and is located in the northeast corner. The only ways to reach the village is by foot, horseback or helicopter. Mail and supplies are brought in weekly by horse or mule train.
The Havasupai have descended from the ancient Yuma tribe and have inhabited the canyon for 1,000 years. There are two major divisions of the Yuma people. One division was called the River Yumas, who lived along the lower Colorado and middle Gila rivers and included the Mojaves, Hakchidhoma, Yuma, Cocopa and Maricopa. The other division was the Upland Yumas which included the Hualapai (Walapai), Havasupai and Yavapai.
They speak a form of Yuman, which was derived from Hokan languages. These languages use prefixes and suffixes and compound words to form longer words made up of several elements. A complete sentence or phrase may be expressed by one word.
They believe in a Supreme Being and have accepted Christianity but still cling to ancient traditions and prayers. They draw their strength and spiritual direction from their land and consider their land sacred.
Their main occupations are farming and packing. They have a lodge for guests but visitors are limited. The women are still practicing basket weaving, using cottonwood and willow coils. Other native crafts are sold on the reservation and surrounding areas. Children are schooled on site eleven months of the year.
In 1880 an executive order was issued that restricted them to 38,000 acres and was amended in 1882 to restrict them to only 500 acres. Presently, the tribe consists of 639 members and they live on 188,000 acres.
Today with the Havasupai Indians, John Grifith, Imperial Lithographers, Phoenix, AZ, 1972
People of the Blue Water, Flora G. Iliff, Harper and Brothers, 1954