The First Peoples
Native Americans knew of this land and its canyons centuries before white people arrived. At least 4,000 years ago, a hunting and gathering society stalked the plateaus and canyons of northern Arizona, leaving behind stone spear points and some small split-twig figures resembling deer or sheep. Preserved in caves in the Grand Canyon, these figurines date from approximately 2000 B.C.
The Ancestral Puebloans Arrive
Ancestors of today's Pueblo tribes came to the Grand Canyon area in about A.D. 500. Like their predecessors, they hunted deer, bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and other animals, while gathering such wild plant foods as pinyon nuts and agave. The ancestral Puebloans also fashioned fine baskets and sandals. At their peak, between 1050 and 1150, they grew crops, crafted pottery, and lived in aboveground masonry villages. Toward the end of this period, drought hit the region. By 1150 nearly all the ancestral Puebloans had departed from the Grand Canyon, leaving more than 2,000 sites behind. It's likely that their migrations eventually took them to the Hopi mesas.
Archaeologists have used the term Anasazi for this culture, but the Navajo word means "ancient enemies"not a phrase that modern-day Pueblo tribes care to use in reference to their ancestors! So this book uses the more respectful phrase "ancestral Puebloans."
Other Tribes Come to the Canyon
While the ancestral Puebloans kept mostly to the east half of the Grand Canyon (east of today's Grand Canyon Village), another group of hunter-gatherers and farmers, the Cohonina, lived downstream between A.D. 600 and 1150. They adopted many of the agricultural and building techniques and crafts of their neighbors to the east. In 1300, the Cerbat, probable ancestors of the modern Havasupai and Hualapai, migrated onto the Grand Canyon's South Rim from the west. They lived in caves or brush shelters and ranged as far upstream as the Little Colorado River in search of game and wild plant foods. The Cerbat also planted crops in areas of fertile soil or permanent springs. It's possible that the Cerbat had cultural ties with the earlier Cohonina.
Paiute living north of the Grand Canyon made seasonal trips to the North Rim, occasionally clashing with the Cerbat. The Paiute lived in brush shelters and relied almost entirely on hunting and gathering. They spent their summers in high country such as the Kaibab Plateau, then moved to lower elevations for the winter. Hopi knew of the Grand Canyon too; they came on religious pilgrimages to collect salt.
In 1540, when Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led an expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Cíbola, Hopi villagers told a detachment of soldiers about a great canyon to the west. Hopi guides later took a party of Coronado's men, led by García López de Cárdenas, to the South Rim but kept secret the routes into the depths. The immensity of the Grand Canyon impressed the Spaniards, who failed in their attempt to find a way to the river. Franciscan priest Francisco Tomás Garces, looking for souls to save, visited the Havasupai and Hualapai in 1776 and was well received. Historians credit Garces with naming the Río Colorado ("Red River").
Americans Explore The Grand Canyon
James Ohio Pattie and other American fur trappers probably found the Grand Canyon in the late 1820s, but they provided only sketchy accounts of their visits. Lieutenant Joseph Ives led the first real exploration of the Colorado River. He chugged 350 miles by steamboat upstream from the river's mouth in 1857-58 before crashing into a rock in Black Canyon. The party then continued overland to the Diamond Creek area in the western Grand Canyon. Ives thought the region worthless and doubted that people would come again.
Most of the Canyon remained a dark and forbidding unknown until Major John Wesley Powell bravely led a boat expedition through the chasm in 1869. On this trip and on a second journey in 1871-72, he and his men made detailed drawings and took notes on geology, flora and fauna, and prehistoric ruins. Powell recorded his experiences in Canyons of the Colorado, now published as The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons.
Miners and Tourists
After about 1880, prospectors entered the Grand Canyon to search for copper, asbestos, silver, and lead deposits. Their trails, many following old Indian routes, are still used by modern hikers.
In 1883, stagecoaches began bringing tourists to the Canyon at Diamond Creek, where J.H. Farlee opened a four-room hotel the following year. Prospectors Peter Berry and Ralph and Niles Cameron built the Grandview Hotel in 1895 at Grandview Point and led tourists down a trail to Horseshoe Mesa. Other prospectors, such as John Hance and William Bass, also found guiding visitors more profitable than mining. Tourism began on a large scale soon after the railroad reached the South Rim in 1901. The Fred Harvey Company bought Bright Angel Lodge, built the deluxe El Tovar Hotel, and took over from the smaller operators.
The Park Is Born
As the Canyon became better known, President Theodore Roosevelt and others pushed for greater federal protection. First a forest reserve in 1893, the Grand Canyon became a national monument in 1908 and a national park in 1919. The park's size doubled in 1975 when legislation extended the boundaries west to Grand Wash and northeast to Lees Ferry. Grand Canyon National Park now includes 1,892 square miles and receives about five million visitors annually.
On to Grand Canyon Village