Grand Canyon

Photos: Mike Selsky
Words by: Francis Kilpatrick

Calling the Grand Canyon huge, enormous, gigantic, colossal, or any other size associated adjective just feels dull. We all know it’s big. Its length spans 277 miles. That’s crazy; something like the distance from LA to Monterey as the crow flies. However, the Grand Canyon contains much more than the vast chunk of earth that it displaces.

Civilizations are thought to have existed within and around the area since 1200 BCE. Native American groups, mostly Puebloan people, have made use of the canyon and its surrounding resources for millennia, building their homes into its walls and feeding their families from its plants and game. The canyon remained virtually unhindered by European settlers until the 1800’s. A few did check it out, calling it “profound,” but, in general, they had little impact on the area. However, in the 1800’s, people started to abuse it, as they did the people it housed, and not until 1903 did the landmark start to fall under federal protection. In the early 1900’s the Grand Canyon wildlife was decimated. Predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves had been wiped out of the area. Miners created no pretenses of reverence for the monument. It was merely another mine to them.

Today it is one of the most well known national parks in the world, but it still bears the same burdens. Uranium was mined there for a time, and, although it could ruin the water supply for more than 18 million people, some people are super amped to get back into it (don’t tell Iran; they’d be super jealous). Plus, more recently, it’s been made illegal to teach Mexican-American studies in the state, so who can really say that anything precious should feel safe in Arizona? Hopefully reason and sensibility will prevail, but most likely it will require action from the federal government, as it has before. Maybe The University of Phoenix and their NFL team will step in and save the day. One can only pray.