Tracing the History of Native American Communities in Relation to the Grand Canyon


Thursday, February 28, 2019


Memorial Union, Arizona Ballroom (Room 221)
301 E Orange St, Tempe, AZ 85281


Theresa Avila, PhD

Presentation Abstract


Historical narratives of the United States often disregard indigenous communities, and typically describe the colonization of the Americas through the lens of European explorers and US westward expansion as Manifest Destiny. Case in point, Arizona history typically starts in the year 1912 when statehood was granted, as if nothing of relevance to the region occurred prior. However, if we are to genuinely (re)examine the complex history of the development and representation of the Grand Canyon then we are must consider the relationship and representation of indigenous communities within the context of this site.

To gain a better understanding of how images affect our concepts of nature, nation, and citizenship this paper analyzes illustrations of both the Grand Canyon and indigenous communities of the region. Moving away from traditional concepts of mapping, this paper traces the representation of indigenous communities of the Grand Canyon within a range of mediums including maps, prints, and photographs. The scope of images considered here will be select and limited to “known” or “famous” images of the Grand Canyon. A review of the development of the Grand Canyon as a national monument and park, as well as of US policies on indigenous communities serve to contextualize the images examined here.