The Havasupai Nation Loves Sharing Havasu Falls With You — but Now They Need Your Help in Return (Video)
You may not know the name Havasu Falls, but if you've spent any time on Instagram, you most certainly know what it looks like.
There are few words to describe just how beautiful the bright-blue water at the base of Havasu Falls actually is. The falls, located at the end of a grueling 10-mile hike into the Grand Canyon, also happens to be a region inside the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
Over the years, the destination has become a popular one for celebrity excursions, including people like Beyonce, who filmed a music video for her song "Spirit," at the base of the falls. It’s also become an extremely popular spot for Instagram influencers who’ve tagged it hundreds of thousands of times thanks to its drop-dead gorgeous beauty.
However, now, in the midst of a global pandemic, the falls sit empty. And because of this, Havasupai Nation is calling for help from all the people who used this magnificent space as a backdrop for photos.
As Uproxx first reported, tourism is wildly important to the Havasupai Nation. In fact, it accounts for 75 percent of all jobs on the Havasupai Reservation. However, they still decided to shut down the falls in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to keep both their people and any would-be travelers safe. In return, the Havasupai offered free exchange dates for hiking permits that were already dispersed. But, delaying hikes will likely not be enough to protect both one of America’s most beautiful places and one of its most vulnerable populations. So, they’re asking travelers to return the favor and any would-be travelers to pay it forward.
“Due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus and COVID-19 in the United States and Arizona, the Tribe has had to temporarily suspend tourism within the Reservation in order to protect Tribal Members from the spread of this pandemic,” the Havasupai Tribe wrote in a GoFundMe post. “Thus, the tourism revenues the Tribe relies upon to run its government, and its Tribal Members depend upon to feed their families and their animals, has been disrupted.”
It noted as an example, a 30-day closure of the Reservation to tourism could result in a seven percent of the Tribe’s annual revenues. Additionally, “non-essential travel into and out of the Canyon has been suspended, including for Tribal Members. However, there is only one small grocery mart in Supai. The Tribe is bringing in bulk food supplies to its people for themselves and their animals, but additional help is needed, especially as the pandemic is projected to remain in full force for a number of months.”
As Uproxx noted, the tribe needs this money as the federal bailout will simply not be enough to cover its immediate needs. Yes, the package includes $1.03 billion of emergency funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS). However, Uproxx explained, that money is only half of what indigenous nations asked for.
“When you look at the health disparities in Indian Country, they align exactly with the vulnerabilities the CDC is citing,” Stacy Bohlen, CEO of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), shared with Vice. Vice additionally noted, Native Americans are already nearly twice as likely to die from influenza and pneumonia during the regular flu season, let alone during a global pandemic where they are left stranded with little to no help.
So now, it’s time for travelers, photographers, and social media influencers who’ve visited before or wish to visit one day to step up in any way they can.
“Please consider making a donation to ensure that the Havasupai People and their animals have the food and the Personal Protection Equipment that they need to remain in their communities and be protected from exposure to the Coronavirus and COVID-19,” the Havasupai wrote. “Prevention is paramount because the Tribe does not have a permanent doctor or nurse on the Reservation, and they do not have a single ventilator or hospital bed. With such a small Tribe, the spread of this disease within the Canyon and Supai Camp could be devastating to the Tribal community and to the continued viability of the Havasupai People. Any contribution will help and will be greatly appreciated by the Tribe and the Havasupai People.”
Want to donate? Check out the GoFundMe page here.