An Indian reservation, just a javelin throw from the Grand Canyon is written by Michael Bo Christensen.
Road trip through American history
Many of us who would like to road trip, would like to go out and experience the American history that is constantly reminded of the countless country roads. This article focuses on the many Native American sights you should visit on your road trip in USA.
The possibilities are many, and visiting an Indian reservation is a great experience for the whole family, where at the same time there is a sad and violent story behind it. All to create the United States we know today. An Indian reservation is definitely worth a visit if you want to understand the part of American history that the reservations symbolize.
Genocide of Indians
Immigrants came from all over the world to the "new" country, which lured with land, freedom and justice in the quest to find happiness. 34 million immigrants came from Europe. 10% of them were Danes, and 30% were Norwegians.
When they arrived at America, they were sent west and helped to push the indigenous people away. The Indians tried to resist, but drew themselves more and more to the west, where they themselves came into conflict with other Indian tribes.
With the immigrants came the European diseases as well. Especially the disease smallpox helped to eradicate whole strains. The American bison, which was an important food source, was deliberately almost exterminated in order to displace the Indians.
Indians were in many places taken as slaves and worked in silver mines - or worse shot, deported or exiled. Wherever the whites came, the Indians had to flee.
The Iron Horse and the Injuries of the Whites
"How many whites are coming," the Indians asked themselves as they watched an endless series of events unfold. Gold diggers, hunters, farmers, cowboys and Mormons came in a gentle current across the prairie. Afterwards came the locomotive - in America called the 'iron horse' - and the cities quickly sprang up along the many train tracks.
The Indians made treaties with the whites, and the whites broke them all. Each and every one. Eventually, all Indians were sent to reservations, which were often located in desert areas or in areas of no particular value.
When the whites discovered oil on the Indian reservations, these were quickly reduced in size. Some reserves have only 10% of their original size left. Most recently, former President Donald Trump wanted to reduce two national park areas for the same reason.
If you read the history of the Indians closely, you are easily filled with nausea and disgust as well as natural anger over the whites' misdeeds, when it comes to an Indian reservation, which is reduced by pure greed for oil.
Today's Indian Reservation
Today, 550 Indian tribes are officially recognized by the government, but almost as many tribes want recognition. With the recognition come rights and support opportunities.
Some tribes today have very few members and struggle to maintain their customs and language.
Apache is a fairly well-known tribe, but one can not talk about Apache as one unit. There are numerous groups of different Apache Indians, just as Danish Jews can be divided into many groups such as western, northern, southern, eastern and central Jews.
The typical Apache Indian Reservation is today more or less closed. They are not closed with either fences or barriers, but most tribes keep to themselves and live their lives in the reserves.
Unemployment is often 50% and the social problems are great. Some places really big. In the entire Navajo area, which is the size of Zealand, you can not find beer and spirits, for example. The plot seems historic.
Considering the history of the Indians, it is no wonder that the tribes do not want contact with whites. However, there are exceptions.
Tourist-friendly Native American tribes
Only a few Indian tribes are what you can call tourist friendly.
Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, Seminole in Florida and Havasupai allow tourists to visit. In particular, the Navajo primarily operate a number of tourist businesses in Arizona.
Here they take advantage of the fact that there are many sights in the reserve that tourists are happy to pay a lot of money to see.
Visit the Hopi tribe in their own Native American reservation
The Hopi tribe, which is a two-hour drive east of the Grand Canyon, lets tourists descend into the wonderful Blue Canyon or visit potters and artisans.
They also have a hotel, the Hopi Culture Center, that you can stay at at Second Mesa.
Visit the Crow tribe at their Indian reservation at Little Big Horn
The Crow Indians are found up in the Big Horn area of the states of Wyoming and Montana. Feel free to visit Little Big Horn Battlefield, where General Custer lost his life. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull had teamed up and got a much-needed victory over Custer.
Apache in southern Arizona operates several casinos. On the other hand, there are no Apache guides. However, you can visit the Chiricahua area, where the Apache chiefs Cochise and Geronimo hid from the American troops.
The southern United States has numerous places where you can see traces of a distant past. Among them, the ruins of the 110-unit Pueblo town of Mesa Verde are popular to visit.
However, you will find Native American ruins, petroglyphs and cave paintings in numerous places.
Guide to visiting a Native American reservation at the Grand Canyon
I like to recommend that you use the local Indian guides. They are skilled and serious - but often quite expensive. I like to come to the reserves myself and often use Indian guides.
In Easter 2017 I was with the Hopi guide 'Lefthanded Hunter' in the Blue Canyon. I will never forget that. We had exciting conversations about the life philosophy and history of the Hopi people.
If you travel into Indian reservations, show common respect and check if you have the right to be where you are. Never take photos of Indians without asking first. Some allow for five US dollars.
I myself never take photos of Indians, as most people associate it with superstition and the entry of the soul from the mirror into the camera.
In several places in the USA you can get to 'powwows'. Here you see Indians performing their ritual dances and drum rhythms and the selection of the most beautiful Native American girl.
Let the children meet real Indians in a Native American reservation
If you are traveling with children, tell them about Native Americans and let them meet those who were once the first Americans.
It makes a big impression to meet these people. Feel free to tell the children about the lives of the Indians and some of the stories that the Indians themselves pass on to the next generation. For example, tell them the story of the Devil's Tower rock in Wyoming – a former part of an Indian reservation:
7 Native American girls were playing and screaming for joy on the hill near the river. A loud scream interrupted the play: "Grizzly!", Was shouted. All solidified. The girls fled up the hill followed by the bear. Just as the bear was close to catching up with them, the ground began to shake under the girls.
They were pushed up by the rock below them. Higher and higher. The bear became furious and let its claws scrape hard on the large rock, leaving deep traces around it. The rock got higher and higher until the girls were pushed up into the sky, where they became stars in the constellation Pleiades.
A road trip through the Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas is highly recommended to anyone who wants to experience the beautiful desert and rocky landscapes and learn about the history of the United States.
The iconic Death Valley in Southern California is also an obvious place to visit on a road trip.
Good trip to USA and remember to experience a Native American reservation or two on your road trip!
7 Indian Reservations at the Grand Canyon
- Antelope Slot Canyon (Lower and Upper) in Page, Arizona
- Boat trips on the Colorado River from Page or Lee's Ferry, Arizona
- Monument Valley, Arizona
- Four Corners, where four states meet
- Canyon de Chelly - The beautiful stronghold of the Navajo Indians, where a great massacre took place
- Navajo has a number of smaller locations they operate, as well as sales of hiking permits, backcountry permits, to Coalmine Canyon and Grand Falls.
- Havasupai is a small remote area with many beautiful waterfalls in the western Grand Canyon