Local News

Tusayan for Tusayan. A History Lesson From Former Mayor Pete Shearer

April 13, 2014

The following was written by Pete Shearer, former Mayor of Tusayan, concerning the possibility of changing the name of Tusayan:

From the booklet called the “Ancient Province of Tusayan”, written by John Wesley Powell in 1875 we learn much about the land and the people of which the name Tusayan was derived.

Rituals and farming techniques, sketches of Tusayan field shelters, watchtowers, cliff houses, hunters, landscape, chimney pots, Tusayan notched doorways…all these add life to his narration which describes the early history of Tusayan.

And in Tusayan Ranger District descriptions of this area it is stated that early inhabitants came here over 3,000 years ago. The Havasupai arrived in Tusayan around 1400 AD. The Navajos arrived around 1500 AD and continue to be frequent visitors to the Tusayan District.

Non Indians arrived in Tusayan in the late 1800’s and the Grand Canyon Railroad arrived at the South Rim in 1901. The Grand Canyon Forest Reserve was established here in 1893, and became part of the Tusayan National Forest in 1910. It was named the Tusayan District of the Kaibab National Forest in 1934.

George Reed, a former forest service ranger, homesteaded the 160 acres of what is now Tusayan in 1920.

In 1933 Tony Galindo built the Tusayan Bar on land he leased from George Reed. This was constructed on the old highway at the site of the current Canyon Pines Mobile Home Park and Fireside Ridge Apartments and holds a rich history for the area. He named the bar the Tusayan Bar after a local Pueblo. The State followed with a sign that identified the area as Tusayan.

In more recent years the community formed the Tusayan Lighting District and Tusayan Fire Department and was successful in obtaining funds to complete the Tusayan Flood Report and the Tusayan Street Improvements Project. More than $7 million dollars have been acquired to improve the quality of life for Tusayan residents and tourists.

When we went to the State Legislature to enable legislation that would allow Tusayan to incorporate we did not call ourselves Grand Canyon. We are a distinct and unique community at the entrance to this state treasure.
When we partnered with the County Board of Supervisors, CREC, and the County Parks and Recreation Department we proposed a regional park for the 3 communities: Grand Canyon, Tusayan, and Valle. We called ourselves Tusayan, out of respect for Native American History, out of respect for our own history, and we do not need to change the name to be more economically sustainable.

When the NPS shut its gates and shut down the motel business in Tusayan, Becky and Clarinda led the local fight to have the nation acknowledge that Tusayan private enterprise and the economical viability of so many gateway communities would not tolerate such an irresponsible action. Our Tusayan Mayor took the fight to the State and to Washington DC and together the community of Tusayan put the name of our small community on the front pages of the national news.

We did not call ourselves Grand Canyon. We are not Grand Canyon. We established our place and reputation as the small Town of Tusayan as one that is now known both nationally and internationally as the champion of private industry rights to operate uninterrupted by national politics. We are surrounded by the Tusayan Ranger District.

Why would we want to change our name and be absorbed into association with the huge GC Department of Interiors conglomerate unless we want to annex the GC Village and become one community, giving up our identity? We have worked hard to be where we are and we are proud to be called Tusayan. We are a separate community and need to keep our name.

We have fought hard to be recognized as a force to be reckoned with, both at the state and national level and there is no reason, especially not for improved marketing, for us to change our name. Please do not pursue this proposed name change. We are Tusayan and can only add to confusion if we change our name after coming so far.