Original Inhabitants / Living Traditions

Original Inhabitants / Living Traditions (HMR20)

Location: Hurricane, UT 84737 Washington County
Country: United States of America

N 37° 12.025', W 112° 59.234'

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Original Inhabitants
Native peoples lived in the Zion area long before the first Euro-Americans came to this canyon. "Southern Paiutes believe they have lived in this area since the time of creation. Because of the abundance of animals, plants, and water in these places, Southern Paiute people thrived and lived along the Virgin River..."
Ethnographic Overview and Assessment, 1995

[Blue marker below]
"Within the lives of Southern Paiutes, there is an inherent understanding that all things are placed on this land with the breath of life, just as humans. This land is considered to be their home...and it is taught that one must consider that rocks, trees, animals, mountains, and all other things are on the same level as man...There is a mutual regard between man and these things, each having something to share and each being dependent on the other for life. It is said that the plants, animals, and, in fact, everything on this land, understands the Paiute language..."
Ethnographic Overview and Assessment, 1995

Southern Paiutes have a long agricultural tradition. In 1776, one of the first Euro-American explorers to come to the Virgin River region, the Spanish priest and missionary Father Escalante, noted that "in a small plain and on the bank of the river, there were three small corn patches with very well made irrigation ditches...
Ethnographic Overview and Assessment, 1995

Zion's original inhabitants were part of a large and complex culture of indigenous peoples who lived all across the Colorado Plateau. Many of these different groups and tribes were in contact with one another, and they lived in balance with nature and with each other. The term "Southern Paiute" today describes a culture consisting of individual bands and tribes in Utah, Arizon, Nevada, and California.

Living Traditions
Southern Paiute culture today is not a historical artifact, but a vibrant, living tradition. With the arrival of Euro-Americans, Paiutes have been forced to adapt to trying circumstances and conditions, but have retained their core values and beliefs. Tribal elders are guardians of knowledge and tradition as they pass along the old ways to future generations.

[Photo inset caption]
Groves of willows found along the banks of the Virgin River and other Zion streams historically provided an abundant source of supple, pliable wood that is used to make traditional Paiute baskets and cradle boards.

[Photo inset caption]
Oawingwa's oak shrubs traditionally supplied Southern Paiutes with a strong, flexible wood for crafting bows and arrows, and with acorns for food. Contemporary Paiutes still collect acorns, which they grind into flour, boil, or roast.

[Blue marker below]
When Zion became a national park a vital and beautiful natural resource was preserved forever. However, for the Southern Paiutes, the creation of the park actually disrupted their cultural patterns and prevented them from following traditional practices, such as gathering wild plants. Today, Paiutes can once again gather plants in the park, and tribal elders and National Park Service representatives are working together to develop mutually beneficial policies.

Like many indigenous peoples around the world, Southern Paiutes maintain a strong oral tradition. Storytelling is a means of both keeping traditions alive and communicating important information. Much of this information is sacred and essential to their cultural identity.
HM NumberHMR20
Series This marker is part of the Dominguez y Escalante Expedition series
Placed ByNational Park Service
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 14th, 2014 at 6:08am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)12S E 323639 N 4118955
Decimal Degrees37.20041667, -112.98723333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 12.025', W 112° 59.234'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 12' 1.50" N, 112° 59' 14.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)435
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4486 Pa'rus Trail, Hurricane UT 84737, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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