Jeff and Roland Manakaja / Havasupai from Supai, Arizona
Supai, Arizona is a small village set down in the bottom of a canyon that is connected to the Grand Canyon System. There is now way to reach the village except by helicoptor, horse or mule--or walking. It is the home of the Havasupia people, apeople who have occupied these lands for thousands of years.
Roland Manakaja met us as we landed down in the canyon. We arranged to interview him once we had settled into the one motel available. I was in awe of this place. There were boys playing basketball and the sounds echoed off the steep canyon walls, the sound magnified. There were horses, a small cafe, many government offices, a school and the houses. All in all, an ordinary small town except for its unusual location.
Life has not been easy for these canyon people. Where once they used to move seasonally from the top to the bottom of the canyon, now the lands above have been taken from them and the canyon floor is all that is left. There is threat of flood, and the constant hardship of moving supplies up and down, or in a medical emergency, a person injured or seriously ill. Many of the elderly are moved to Peach Springs because they cannot receive the emergency care they may need down below.
Roland and Jeff Manakaja sang the traditional songs of the Havasupai. Both men are passionate about preserving what remains of the traditional music and culture of their people. As we wandered the village, we could still hear many people speaking the original language.
There is no adequate way to describe this beautiful place. Milt and I walked down the canyon a ways and saw a series of incredible waterfalls and streams making their way toward the Colorado River.
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Down, down, down into the beautiful canyon.