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10 | a desert oasis is green, fertile, and well watered. This perfectly describes the astonishing village of the Havasupai people who live hidden and isolated three thousand feet below the Colorado Plateau, in a side valley of the Grand Canyon. To reach this haven, one must travel off the main road and across a piñon-juniper forest to the head of one of only two trails into Havasu Canyon. From there, one goes by foot or horseback down a dry, rocky, treeless, precipitous , ancient route. After what can seem an endless passage, one emerges into a ribbon of brilliant green fed by a clear, cool stream that cuts through this narrow, red canyon home of the Havasupai. The stream that creates this refuge emanates from springs that bubble out of the ground above the village. It gives the Havasupai their name, “people of the blue green water.” The clear water feeds banks of lush vegetation—huge cottonwoods and thick stands of willows. Havasu Creek also feeds irrigation canals that water fields of corn, beans, and squash, traditionally the essential crops of the Havasupais’ summer way of life. The segment of Havasu Canyon where Supai, the Havasupai village , sits is three miles long and, in places, only a quarter of a mile wide. Below Supai, Havasu Creek tumbles down a series of magnificent falls as it knifes its way through the narrow lower Havasu Canyon, beyond which its bluish waters, flowing through an even narrower, steep-sided canyon, mix with those of the Colorado River. Chapter 2 The Changing Life of the Havasupai| douglas w. schwartz | the changing life of the havasupai | 11 Positioned far below the rim of the Colorado Plateau, the village was originally only the summer home of the Havasupai. In the winter they lived on the plateau in a territory of some ninety by seventy-five miles covered in stands of pine and grassy meadows. It was there, during the cooler months of the year, that the Havasupai hunted and gathered to supplement their fall agricultural harvests. The Havasupai divided their traditional life between farming in the canyon during the summer and foraging widely over their plateau territory during the rest of the year. In the early spring, family groups, who had been scattered across the plateau during the winter, moved back into the canyon. They cleared the debris from the previous year’s garden plots and prepared the two hundred or so acres suitable for planting . They repaired the irrigation ditches and constructed low dams of earth and brush to divert water from the creek onto the fields. In mid-April they planted, using juniper digging sticks and other simple tools. In addition to corn, beans, and squash, the Havasupai grew domestic sunflowers, gourds, and cotton. After planting the first corn kernel of the season, a farmer chewed another and then blew it toward two white marks on the canyon wall that symbolized the ancestral ears of corn presented to the Havasupai by their legendary twin culture heroes (see stories 1–3). After planting, farmers irrigated the corn a few times while some people returned to the plateau to hunt game and collect fresh greens. Those who stayed in the canyon cared for the growing crops and protected them from rodents and birds by setting traps near the fields or tethering pet hawks or dogs nearby. The periodic watering and weeding of the fields continued, and as the canyon crops matured and water on the plateau became less available in the heat of summer, the Havasupai remained for longer times near their fields, living in dome-shaped brush huts or in rock shelters overlooking the valley. Crops began maturing in June and could be harvested through the early fall, when all the crops and many of the wild plant foods were picked and dried for storage. Farmers stored seeds for the next growing season in rock and mud granaries built into the cliffs, out of reach of predators and the damaging floods that occasionally roared through the canyon during violent summer rainstorms. In August, the Havasupai invited neighboring Hopi people from the east and Walapai from the west to Havasu Canyon for one of their few community-wide ceremonies—the harvest festival, when they feasted, gambled, and 12 | part i traded. Following the feast, they held a Circle Dance in which everyone joined hands, faced the center of the circle, and moved in short, sideways steps, expressing and reinforcing their group solidarity. By the middle...


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