Grand Canyon West 34th Anniversary Celebration- Family of Indians

By: Clarence Gonzales/ Lavonne Gonzales (RezconnectEnt & Promotions), Veronica Wood

Annually, the Grand Canyon west Corporation, of the Hualapai Tribe. Sponsors an event called “The Anniversary”, filled with complimentary tours, t shirts, five dollar pictures on the international world renowned- Skywalk,  native american dance group performances, and a complimentary lunch. This year on the 23rd and 24th of April 2022. Our family and guest from Indian Voices started our journey to Grand Canyon West to attend the 34th Annual Grand Canyon West Anniversary. A day of celebration for the 34th year, Grand Canyon West, has been offering tours of the west rim of the grand canyon, on the Hualapai Indian reservation.

As we arrived, to our destination, Grand Canyon West( The festivities, had already begun. We joined the Hualapai Elders, Grand Canyon West  CEO- Ruby Steele , Hualapai tribal Chairman and Hualapai Tribal  Council in a dance for Grand Canyon West, employees who have passed on. While the ladies dance, the young men sing for the spirit to journey well and find its place with the creator. Indian Voices, Veronica Wood, interviewed, a lady by the name Flora Powskey. Flora’s, late husband, was Joe Powskey, whom was a well known artist. Joe, had many finaminal pieces of art work. A few to name, where the Hualapai Tribal seal and Mohave county seal. Our lunch, that was provided to the attendees of the anniversary, was hamburgers, hot dogs, condiments, soda, water and cake.

Eagle point- Our next stop was Eagle point, in Hualapai we say, Sa’ Nyu Wa, home of the Eagle. As the Indian voices crew set up and immediately started to document Marcelino Osife, Clayburne Nodman and myself Clarence Gonzales and the dance group of ladies-  “Sugar Bears”, Serena Bender,  Rosie Jackson, Stacey Jackson. Named after the late Sylvia Jackson. Veronica, of Indian Voices interviewed Louise Benson, of whom at one time was Chairwomen of the Hualapai tribe, when Grand Canyon West was In adolescent stages of growth.

“Grand Canyon west when it was a bus, dirt road and grandma Rhoda, was the cook. A plate of potato salad, beans, pitted beef, vegetable and homemade tortilla was the menu at guano point” , taken  from Family of Indians pt 1. Guano point, was the next stop. A look out point, filled with trails for hiking and by far the best for the photo genic personalities.

As I stand, at the top of the wide trail, of which, at one time was the path way road for an old school bus. Which carried the guests of grand canyon west, through the tour. My thoughts were, “how in the world did they get the bus up and down this path”. As a kid, I used to stay at grand canyon west on weekends. While my father worked, as the bus driver. If I’m not mistaken this was back in the late, 1980’s.

When auntie Cheryl was going for a jog one morning and the name battle ship point, was a thought for that day. As she jogged by eagle point that morning. If I remember correctly”.

On sunday April 24th, Indian Voices spent the day with, the Grand Canyon West performers. Indian voices interviewed Wynonna Sinyella and Quentin Paya.

Quentin Paya(Louise Benson dance group)- Quentin Paya, otherwise known as BJ, to the locals. Bj’s story is unique. He is from the Havasupai Tribe, but resides in Peach Springs, Az. Amongst the Hualapai tribe. B.j, is a relative, by way of my fathers  grandmother(Mon’ya) the late (“Ruby Quasula”, of the Hualapais, that inhabited the “Indian Camp”, in Seligman Arizona, blood line of Chief Quasula). Where the Havasupai and Hualapai People long ago (gu’d dav), used to gather and sing songs of healing, in the language spoken by both tribes, which is almost simular. Bj, carries a gift of song, dance and knowledge, handed down to him by his grandfather(Earl Paya). Even today, the Havasupai carry their language as a first language. Bj, is a fluent speaker and shares these songs, gourd and drum with the Havasupai, Hualapai people and guests of Grand Canyon West.

The gift shop at the Ranch– the gift shop at the Ranch, at Grand Canyon west,  carries a variety of hand made arts and crafts made by tribal members. There is a lady, in the gift shop, you can find and observe the technique of weaving small dream catchers or small arts and crafts. Her name is Besty Whatoname,  daughter of the Late Wilford Whatoname, of whom was once, at one time, the Chairman of the Hualapai tribe. Wilford Whatoname Sr, whom produced a hand full of books about the Hualapai People. On several occasions, I had the chance to sit and talk with Mr. Whatoname. He shared information about the Hualapai tribe, political and non political stories. Besty, sits in the gift shop making dream catchers and other small trinkets you can find at, The gift shop, at the Ranch.

Thunder Gourds- You can find a unique piece of art, here at the gift shop, at the Ranch called “Thunder Gourd”.  The artist and producer of these unique Gourds is Roderick “Watts”Selana. Roderick, is originally from Shongopovi, AZ. He is from the Snow clan and is from the Hopi tribe, but has been living amongst the Hualapai People, for decades. Being retired, his time now, is filled with his passion for his artwork and creations.

“Roderick hand carves, these unique collecters items called- “Thunder Gourds”.  They are a large gourd carved and hollowed out, with a plastic enclosure. Which gives the gourd the thunderous sound, when the cord is pulled. The art work on the thunder gourds, are all free hand art. Some hand painted and others burnt in.

Our weekend, didn’t stop till tuesday. Indian Voices and the family of Indians, family, started shooting for the documentary.

We would like to thank, the family of Flora Selana and Roderick Salena, for inviting Indian voices, to their cabin, home and Grand Canyon West. Also, the Hualapai community of Peach Springs, Az. Who treated us well and were very supportive. The Reservation was beautiful, with a wide range of green trees, “The Hualapai Reservation, extends one million acres, on the rim of the Grand Canyon”. 


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