Grand Canyon Conservancy Amplifies Native Stories with New Film

By Katie Cavanaugh-Smith posted 05-03-2024 12:46 PM


The Grand Canyon Conservancy recently took a significant step towards promoting inclusivity and honoring Indigenous voices at Grand Canyon National Park. The premiere of the new film, "We Are Grand Canyon," marks a pivotal moment in highlighting the perspectives and experiences of the 11 Indigenous tribes for whom the canyon holds deep cultural and spiritual significance.

The film's debut was a vibrant occasion, featuring captivating performances by Hopi and Hualapai dancers, traditional native cuisine, and insightful speeches from members of the Intertribal Working Group. This collaborative effort, initiated over a decade ago, aims to advocate for increased representation of Native stories within the park's narrative.

Carmen Clark, a member of the Shivwits Band of Paiutes, is prominently featured in the film, emphasizing the importance of having Indigenous voices heard. She underscores the profound connection between the tribes and their ancestral lands, reminding visitors that these landscapes are more than just scenic—they are lifelines of Indigenous communities.

Throughout the film, various tribal members candidly share stories of historical trauma, including forced relocations that severed their ties to the Grand Canyon's environs. Shanondoah Anderson of the Shivwits Band poignantly recalls how her tribe's intimate relationship with the canyon was disrupted by government-mandated relocation, leading to a loss of ancestral songs and cultural heritage.

"We Are Grand Canyon," produced by Bristlecone Media and supported by the Grand Canyon Conservancy, will be a permanent fixture at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Superintendent Ed Keable emphasizes that this film is part of a broader commitment to portraying the nation's history with honesty and respect, echoing the park's dedication to collaborative endeavors with tribal partners in education and economic development.

The Grand Canyon Conservancy's support for this enlightening film underscores their commitment to preserving the cultural richness and diverse narratives that define Grand Canyon National Park. Through initiatives like these, they continue to play a crucial role in fostering awareness, understanding, and appreciation of public lands' significance to all communities.