ArtPlace America grant offers new life to Grand Canyon’s Desert View Point

Watchtower, Desert View, Grand Canyon National Park, undated | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – ArtPlace America announced Wednesday the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, on behalf of the tribal heritage project partnership, received a grant of $500,000 to further arts and culture at Desert View in Grand Canyon National Park. The grant will transform Desert View into a place to celebrate, share and learn about intertribal cultural heritage.

Desert View Point, Grand Canyon, eastern edge
View of the Grand Canyon from Desert View Point, near the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, photo undated | Photo by Kristen M. Caldon, courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

AIANTA, along with Grand Canyon National Park and the park’s Intertribal Advisory Council, will specifically use the grant to preserve murals inside the historic watchtower, continue the “Cultural Demonstration Series,” and develop intertribal tourism opportunities. In addition to ArtPlace America and AIANTA, Grand Canyon Association and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have partnered with Grand Canyon National Park on the reinvigoration of Desert View.

A signature project for 2016’s National Park Service Centennial, the revival of Desert View as a cultural heritage site will provide opportunities for the public to connect with Grand Canyon’s traditionally associated tribes. This transformation also ensures that future generations of tribal members and visitors will have an opportunity to make and share meaningful experiences and stories.

This project re-envisions how visitors experience Desert View and the entire park and will lead us and the NPS into the next century,” Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said. “We are grateful for the support of ArtPlace America and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and the hard work of our Intertribal Advisory Council.”

Grand Canyon’s tribal council, established in 2013, is composed of representatives from the park’s 11 traditionally associated tribes who collaborate with the NPS on issues that affect each of the tribes and the park.

Those tribes include Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai-Apache, and five bands of Southern Paiute represented by the Kaibab Paiute. They work with the park on programs such as youth development, tribal tourism opportunities, and cultural demonstrations.

One of the programs, the “Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps,” supported by the NPS Washington Office of Youth Programs, employed 10 Navajo and Hopi students for 12 to 22 weeks. The hope is to develop the program further to engage youth from the traditionally associated tribes.

Working with Arizona Conservation Corps, the crew worked on multiple projects throughout Grand Canyon, ranging from trail maintenance to creating interpretive programs, as part of the ongoing changes at Desert View.

The Desert View area has been used as a gathering place for thousands of years. Visitors can see a glimpse of the ancient past at the Tusayan Ruin and Museum. Architect Mary Colter modeled Desert View’s centerpiece, the watchtower, after the architecture of the Ancestral Puebloan people of the Colorado Plateau.

Desert View represents the physical and cultural gateway from Grand Canyon National Park to the Navajo and Hopi reservations, said a release.

Desert View is the eastern entrance into Grand Canyon National Park. It is located on the South Rim approximately 45 minutes east of Grand Canyon Village. To plan your visit to Desert View, see the National Park Service’s Web page for the Grand Canyon here.

Made up of foundations, federal agencies, and banks, ArtPlace America focuses on art’s role in place-based development. AIANTA, a nonprofit organization, helps tribes build for their future and strengthen their cultural legacy.


  • ArtPlace America website
  • American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association website
  • Arizona Conservation Corps website
  • To plan your visit to Desert View, go to National Park Service website.

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