Popular Grand Canyon stop changes ‘offensive’ name to honor Native American tribe

K. Pitts

A portion of the Grand Canyon with a name deemed "offensive" to Native Americans has been renamed in a move that one official called "long overdue," the National Park Service announced in a statement Monday.

The area of the park formerly known as Indian Garden will now be known as Havasupai Gardens, after the U.S. Board of Geographic Names earlier this month voted unanimously to approve the change, which was requested by members of the Havasupai Tribe to honor their ancestors, the National Park Service said.

The park service instituted policies that forced the Havasupai people from the area — originally called Ha’a Gyoh — nearly a century ago, according to the statement. The last resident, Captain Burro, was forcibly removed in 1928.

Tribe chairman Thomas Siyuja Sr. said the recent "offensive" name "has had detrimental and lasting impacts on the Havasupai families that lived there and their descendants."

The name change, Siyuja added, will shine a light on the area's history for the approximately 100,000 people who visit it every year.

Havasupai Gardens is a frequent stopping point for hikers located off Bright Angel Trail, the park’s most popular hiking trail, according to the park service.

Grand Canyon superintendent Ed Keable added that the renaming is “long overdue" and "a measure of respect for the undue hardship imposed by the park on the Havasupai people."

Park officials are working to update the area's signage with the new name, as well as the website and other materials, according to the statement. The park service is also working with the Havasupai Tribe to plan a rededication ceremony for the area next spring.

The Havasupai Tribe — whose name means "People of the Blue Green Waters" — have lived around the Grand Canyon for over 1,000 years, according to the tribe's website and the park service. A Havasupai reservation within the park was established in 1880 and enlarged in 1975, according to the tribe's website.

“The Creator made the Havasupai People the guardians of the Grand Canyon, and this is a role that we take very seriously," Siyuja said in the statement. "We are a small tribe. But our voices and our spirits are large.”

By being renamed, Havasupai Gardens joins other entities — including First Peoples Mountain at Yellowstone National Park and the Cleveland Guardians baseball team — that have dropped prior names offensive to Native Americans.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com