October is the ideal month for exploring any passage of the Arizona National Scenic Trail. As you immerse yourself in the beauty of our state’s deserts, mountains, canyons, forests and grasslands this season, please remember that the public lands we enjoy for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, kayaking and all other forms of recreation are on ancestral lands. Although they are now managed by federal agencies like the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, America’s public lands were managed for millennia by indigenous cultures. All of Arizona is ancestral land, and it’s impossible to spend time on the Arizona Trail without walking or riding in the footsteps of native peoples. As we celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day today, we honor the 23 tribes who are among Arizona’s original inhabitants and their present-day descendants who use the AZT for recreation, employment, and to connect with the plants, animals and landscapes that help define their culture. The Arizona Trail Association is proud that the trail connects history and people, and we are committed to conscious stewardship of the trail and the lands through which it passes. In alignment with our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Policy, we are pleased to be able to share some information about the Arizona Trail Association’s connections to indigenous communities in this special edition of the Arizona Trail e-News. We know the Arizona Trail can be a transformative pathway that connects all people to the history and landscapes that make the Grand Canyon State unique. We welcome your input on how we can be more inclusive, and strive to make you a proud supporter of the ATA. Yavapai-Apache Youth and Elders Retrace Their Exodus Along the Arizona Trail
In 1875, nearly 1,500 Yavapai and Western Apache people were forcibly removed from the Rio Verde Reservation in the Verde Valley to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. They were marched over the Mazatzal Mountains in winter by U.S. soldiers for nearly 200 miles, and at least 100 died along the way. This grim chapter in Arizona’s history is known to the Yavapai-Apache as the Exodus. Significant locations and tragic events along the Exodus have been kept alive through Yavapai-Apache oral traditions, and although the path was roughly documented by the officer in charge of the relocation at the time, the actual route has never been properly mapped. But in 2017, the Yavapai-Apache Nation invited cartographers to map the route as tribal members retraced the long walk of their ancestors. In addition to connecting youth and elders with the landscape and sharing cultural history along the way, this project’s purpose was to create an indigenous story map that would preserve a vital part of the tribe’s history of survival. During the planning phase it became clear that part of the Exodus route aligned with the Arizona National Scenic Trail. To support this important cultural project, the ATA provided maps, information and logistical support to assist the Yavapai-Apache participants as they walked for 17 days through mountains and deserts. They drank from the same springs that sustained their ancestors during the forced march, harvested edible plants, and connected with the landscape in a meaningful way. Throughout their journey they documented significant places, recording their exact locations with GIS technology, and identifying their traditional names as well as the names found on modern maps. In the future, excursions can be made with data downloaded to a smartphone or navigation device, allowing Yavapai-Apache youth to experience the hardships encountered by their ancestors and appreciate their courage and persistence in returning home after a generation in exile. This trail is important to help bridge the growing cultural gap between the youngest generation of Yavapai-Apache and the generation that currently leads the nation who were raised by people who knew the old ways and how to live off the land. It’s also an opportunity for all people to learn more about Arizona’s history so they may connect with the landscape on a deeper level. The wealth of cultural information gathered through the Exodus Trail Project has been integrated into the Interactive Place Names Map at the Yavapai-Apache Cultural Resource Center in Camp Verde. While some of the information is not available for sharing outside the tribal community due to its culturally sensitive nature, much of the data about traditional place names, food sources and gathering areas, traditional boundaries of various bands and clans, and other native history can be enjoyed by non-native visitors. To learn more, please visit the Yavapai-Apache Cultural Resource Center online or in person. There is also a brief and informative history of Yavapai and Apache events in Arizona available through the Tonto National Monument website. Trailhead Sign Highlights Cultural Importance of the Peaks
Over the past five years, the small parking area off Snowbowl Road known as Aspen Corner has become an increasingly popular access point for Arizona Trail hikers and mountain bikers. A short link trail wends through a healthy stand of aspens and past dramatic volcanic boulders to arrive at the AZT near Alfa Fia Tank. The views of the San Francisco Peaks are inspiring, and some of the highest quality miles of trail in all of northern Arizona can be found nearby. In an effort to assist with navigation, remind visitors of Leave No Trace practices, and promote the Arizona Trail, the ATA offered to develop an interpretive sign at this location. With approval from the Coconino National Forest we installed a covered kiosk last year with help from local volunteers. Understanding that the Peaks are among the culturally significant natural features throughout northern Arizona, the ATA proposed the idea of including of indigenous language and perspectives into the sign. We were shocked to hear this had never been done before on the Coconino National Forest – a 1.8-million-acre forest immersed within an indigenous landscape. In collaboration with the Forest’s Tribal Liaison, the ATA’s Executive Director began communicating with language experts and representatives from nine tribes. After almost two years of consultation and reaching consensus on what information should be included, the sign was finalized and installed this summer. It reminds recreationalists they are entering a sacred landscape, and a request to visit with respect. It also includes the original names of the peaks in nine indigenous languages: Nuva’tukya’ovi -- Hopi Dook’o’oosłííd -- Navajo Hvehasahpatch -- Havasupai Wik’hanbaja -- Hualapai Dził Tso -- Apache Wi:mun Kwa -- Yavapai Nuvaxatuh -- Southern Paiute Sunha K’hbchu Yalanne -- Zuni Tsii Bina -- Acoma ‘Amat ‘Iikwe Nyava -- Mojave The ATA hopes this small, respectful acknowledgment encourages other trail organizations and land managers to engage indigenous communities every time interpretive signs are developed and installed on public land. We continue working with tribes on this project, and plans are underway to include a QR code where visitors can use their smartphone to hear the names of the peaks in each language. Native Interns Enrich Outdoor Education Programs
The Arizona Trail Association’s Seeds of Stewardship is an outdoor education program with a goal to inspire youth to be the next generation of trail and land stewards. We connect individuals to nature and trails by providing free outdoor experience, education, and training for the protection and health of the communities and natural places. We work closely with our indigenous neighbors, including Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui, San Carlos Apache, Navajo (Diné), and Hopi; though we acknowledge there is room for improvement. One area where we continue to seek collaboration with indigenous youth is through internship opportunities. As an outdoor education program, Seeds of Stewardship acknowledges that our lessons are inherently taught through westernized methodologies, which are often unintentionally offensive toward indigenous communities. We invite native youth to be Seeds of Stewardship interns to help decolonize our education methods by providing cultural perspectives for youth throughout Arizona. During the 2018-2019 school year, Martin A’chea Acuña worked as our program’s intern. As a young Yoeme (Pascua Yaqui Nation) leader, he is responsible for singing, dancing, and teaching others within his community and around the country about traditional cultural activities. During his internship, and when appropriate, Martin provided knowledge about Yoeme history, science, and culture for hundreds of youth throughout Arizona. It was our sincere pleasure to work with Martin and grateful for his perspective. Seeds of Stewardship is always seeking collaboration from our indigenous neighbors, especially from teachers, interns, and guides. We are open to Arizona’s indigenous communities’ critiques about our methodologies and program strategies as well. Please contact us for more information or to get involved by contacting Julie (Northern Arizona) and Treven (Southern Arizona). Native Perspectives on Public Lands Webinar Series
Our friends at the Grand Canyon Trust and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners are hosting a series of webinars to educate recreationists, land managers, and public lands advocates about the importance of indigenous perspectives. The series kicked off on National Public Lands Day (Saturday, September 26) and one-hour webinars are held each Thursday in October covering a variety of topics on the importance of elevating indigenous perspectives in issues of conservation and public lands use and management, and identifying how such management can support tribal preservation. The next teach-in on Thursday, October 15 will discuss how should one visit with respect on ancestral land. Participation in the webinars is free, but advance registration is required. To register, click here. If you missed the last three webinars, recordings are available on YouTube: Introduction: Retelling Histories of American Conservation and Preservation Panel #1: Why is it important to include indigenous perspectives in land use practices and the management of ancestral land/public lands? Panel #2 How can Indigenous peoples restore and reconnect traditional land use practices and protection? Cultural Resource Guide for Arizona Trail Stewards & Trail Users
When you’re out on the Arizona Trail it’s important to remember you are often walking in the footsteps of people who have lived on this landscape for 10,000 years or longer. Many of the trails we hike run and ride on were used as traditional footpaths as people migrated seasonally, pursued animals, and visited sacred sites. Evidence of these people has been left behind in the form of cultural resources, or artifacts. Each one of these individual pieces fits into a larger puzzle of understanding the people and their way of life. When a piece is missing, sometimes the story may be lost altogether. Each artifact on the land is a vital part of Arizona’s history and it’s our responsibility to protect them. The ATA recently developed the Arizona Trail Steward Guide to Cultural Resources in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and Arizona State Historic Preservation Office to give you information on what you may discover while doing routine maintenance since moving dirt is likely to reveal artifacts hidden below the surface. The guide details common artifacts you’re likely to see and how to identify them, including flaked stone, ground stone, ceramics, and historic trash. It explains how to properly document, protect and report your findings. Please download the Arizona Trail Steward Guide to Cultural Resources from the Resources for AZT Stewards page of our website. And always remember to Leave What You Find.