A popular camping spot in Grand Canyon National Park has been renamed, making it just the latest federally-managed space to undergo rebranding. It isn’t the last, either.
After a unanimous vote by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names earlier this month, the Indian Garden campground has been renamed Havasupai Gardens. The vote came after the Havasupai Tribe formally requested the National Park Service change the campground’s name.
The area, originally called Ha’a Gyoh, is along the present-day Bright Angel Trail and is a common stop for day hikers and backpackers in the backcountry of the Grand Canyon. In the 1920s, the National Park Service instituted policies forcing the Havasupai people from Ha’a Gyoh, where they had been “since time immemorial,” according to park Superintendent Ed Keable.
The last of the Havasupai Tribe to leave was Captain Burro, who was forcibly removed, according to NPS. Despite their eviction, members of the tribe continued to live and work in the national park.
There was one native man park employees reported seeing walking up and down the canyon walls to the present-day Havasupai Garden. They called him Billy Burro, according to Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss, a member of the Havasupai Tribe and former Council member. Thousands of visitors now follow in his footsteps every year — much of Bright Angel Trail is Billy Burro’s route.
“Every year, approximately 100,000 people visit the area while hiking the Bright Angel Trail, largely unaware of this history,” said Chairman Thomas Siyuja, Sr. “The renaming of this sacred place to Havasupai Gardens will finally right that wrong.”
Efforts to update signs, websites and other material to match Havasupai Garden’s renaming are already underway, and a rededication ceremony is slated for next spring.
A mountain in Yellowstone National Park was renamed earlier this year to remove the name of an explorer, Gustavus Doane, who led an attack on a band of Piegan Blackfeet. Known as the Marias Massacre of 1870, the attack left at least 173 American Indians dead, including women, children suffering from smallpox, and elderly Tribal members. In June, NPS announced Mount Doane would be renamed to First Peoples Mountain.
There are more than 600 other geographic features in the U.S. that have or will soon undergo a name change as part of the Department of Interior’s efforts to remove the term “squaw” from federal lands.
Even more places could be renamed soon. The Interior Department recently announced the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will hold its inaugural public meeting on December 7 and 8. The Committee is responsible for finding federal land units and geographic features with names that may be considered derogatory and creating potential replacement names.
There are 17 members on the Advisory Committee, which represents Tribes and Tribal organizations, Native Hawaiian Organizations, “and members of the public with expertise in civil rights, history, geography, and anthropology,” according to the Department of the Interior.
Anyone can submit a new name or name change for a geographic feature with the Board on Geographic Names.