Continuing Tribal Relations

Funded: $24,000

-A Zion Group Gathering-

Zion National Park is the ancestral homelands to numerous Native American Tribes. Evidence for human occupation in Zion Canyon spans thousands of years. 

Zion National Park communicates with at least twenty-seven affiliated tribes ranging from the nearby Southern Paiute, to tribes and pueblos across the western states. 

Seldom do opportunities arise where park leadership has the opportunity to meet with tribes in person to informally discuss a variety of topics related to the park. This project would provide for a much-needed informal gathering to continue growing relations with the associated tribes. 

“Relationships with Native American tribes are critical to our success. Their knowledge and insights are invaluable in park planning. Collaboration and on site communication with subject matter experts about best practices allows for fully informed decisions for the future of the park.” –Courtney Mackay, Cultural Resource Program Manager, Zion National Park 

The idea for this program came from a 2020 project where tribal leadership gathered in the park to discuss best practices for the management and treatment of archaeological sites with rock writing, modifications, and inscriptions. The gathering was beneficial in understanding the similarities and differences between park policies and tribal policies concerning these resources as the two management styles are not always aligned. 

One example presented at the gathering included the challenges for site management. A sandstone rock writing panel had broken off of a wall and fallen to the ground within a documented archaeological site. Park archaeologists intended to retrieve the segment and place it in collections, concerned it would be vandalized or stolen. However, Native American tribal leaders offered a different perspective. Rather than collect the panel, they suggested it be left in place to allow natural erosion to occur. The removal of the panel from its original location would cause more damage than leaving it to natural processes. 

With your support, park staff and tribal leaders will congregate for a three-day meeting in Zion Canyon, where they will discuss future park plans and share insights. They will have the opportunity to discuss best practices on several subjects while gathered on ancestral lands. Your gift supports the future of Zion’s management planning, ensuring the Native American perspective is welcomed and respected.