Hikers who reach the bottom of the "inner gorge" at Grand Canyon National Park can learn more about the ancient cultures that once lived there thanks to the addition of interpretive panels erected next to ruins near Phantom Ranch.
The panels share the story of the Ancestral Puebloan people who once lived in the Grand Canyon and surrounding area. Here, says the Park Service, they built their homes, raised their families, and lived their lives, hunting, farming and collecting foods, and trading with other communities in the area.
According to Grand Canyon exhibit specialist Jennie Albrinck, creating the exhibits at this site was, “…essential to interpreting the human history of the Grand Canyon. Its proximity to Phantom Ranch and the Kaibab Trail, make it easily accessible to inner canyon hikers, mule riders and people on river trips. It was a perfect opportunity to share the story of the ancestral Puebloan peoples who lived here 900 – 1000 years ago.”
According to Park Service historians, modern Puebloan peoples such as the Hopi of Arizona and the Zuni and Rio Grande tribes of New Mexico are the descendents of these early residents of the Grand Canyon area, and their oral histories and traditions are often used by archeologists as a starting point for understanding the meanings of the artifacts they find at sites like Bright Angel Pueblo.
“Understanding the inhabitants of the pueblo and their culture allows for connections between the experiences of long ago and the experiences of today," said Ian Hough, the park's Vanishing Treasures archaeologist.
Today, the Grand Canyon holds deep cultural and spiritual connections for at least 11 Native American tribes. As a result, tribal consultation played a significant role in the exhibit planning and design process.
Hopi cultural resources consultant Lyle J. Balehquah joined park staff in researching, planning and writing the text for the exhibits.
Visitors interested in seeing the exhibit are reminded that due to the long distances involved, the steep and rugged terrain, and the seasonally hot and desert-like conditions in the inner canyon, day trips to the bottom of the canyon and back are strongly discouraged. To learn more about how to plan an overnight trip to Phantom Ranch or the Bright Angel Campground, please visit our web site at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/.