Humphreys Peak

another interesting ancillary fact about the site of the Tusayan ruins is its location on a slope coming down from the rim of the Grand Canyon, which allows a clear view of the highest peak in Arizona, Humphreys Peak (reaching an elevation of 12,637 feet above sea level). Humphreys Peak was (re)named in 1911 for a Union General who served a a civil engineer prior to and throughout the Civil War. following the war, he served as chief of the Army Corps of Engineers until his retirement in 1879. he was also one of the men who incorporated the National Academy of Sciences.

known in Hopi as Aaloosaktukwi, it is part of an extinct volcano chain that last erupted some two million years ago. the peaks, now known as the San Francisco Peaks and within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, are sacred to over a dozen tribes, including the Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni. the peaks are said to contain abalone inside and be secured to the ground by a sunbeam. Humphrey’s Peak is associated with the Aalooska deity of the Two-Horn Society, which was based in the Hopi village in which the Spanish established a mission.

while native peoples have inhabited and worshiped on the land around the peaks for millennia, the first Europeans arrived in the mid-16th century and began building settlements in the 17th century. in 1629, a group of Spanish friars established a mission in at Awatovi (one of the largest Hopi villages and center of the Two-Horn Society); in the following century their successors named that mission in honor of St. Francis. in the 1870s, a follower of Brigham Young claimed land around the only reliable spring in the area, on the western side of the peaks and built a stockade to house workers toiling on the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad.

the area first became protected federal land (as a forest reserve) by direction of President McKinley at the behest of Gifford Pinchot. local reaction was hostile but had no impact on the protection status of the land; further developments on the peaks during the last century have sparked further protest and debate. today, those debates center around the varied development plans of recreational venues throughout the peaks.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.