Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Locals At The Grand Canyon Contort Themselves For Tourists

The Houston Chronicle recently ran a story about a new pedestrian observation bridge being built over the Grand Canyon. This bridge represents how difficult it can be for locals to meet the needs of tourists. 

The bridge is being financed by a Las Vegas businessman and is being built under the authority of a tribe of Native Americans called the Hualapai. 

On one hand, the Hualapai need the revenue the bridge would generate. On the other hand, the Grand Canyon is sacred to these folks and some view the bridge as desecration.

From the article— “The Hualapai are completely dependent on the 345,000 visitors who come to the reservation each year to tour the tribe’s end of the canyon by boat or helicopter.”  

If that tribe in Arizona is dependant on tourists for revenue, you can bet they are contorting their identity to an extent that sometimes they must not be able to recognize themselves.

I once read a book called Devil’s Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West by Hal Rothman. One of the topics in the book was the response of Native Americans living around the Grand Canyon to the tourists. Some tried to cater to the tourists and others did not. All options were difficult.

When the place you live in, or the place you work in, is overrun by tourists and/or customers, you risk losing yourself to the demands, needs and notions of outsiders.

Some can walk away when their shift is over. However, if you live in an entire town dependant on tourism, or are part of a tribe that needs tourists, the balance is a much harder one to find. I’m sure that on many levels it must be enraging.       

January 11, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Books | 2 Comments