The oldest human artifacts found in Grand Canyon are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. There has been continuous use and occupation of the region since that time. Indeed, 11 Traditionally Associated Tribes and historic ethnic groups view the Grand Canyon's archeological resources as preservation of their heritage.
The park has recorded more than 4,800 archaeological resources with an intensive survey of nearly 3 percent of the park area.
Archaeological remains from the following culture groups are found in Grand Canyon National Park: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Basketmaker, Ancestral Puebloan (Kayenta and Virgin branches), Cohonina, Cerbat, Pai, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo and Euro-American.
Although first afforded federal protection in 1893 as a forest reserve and later as a national monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve national park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service. Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to 5 million visitors each year—a far cry from the annual visitation of 44,173 that the park received in 1919.
To learn more about the human history of the park, visit Grand Canyon National Park’s website.
Want to learn more? Try Christopher M. Coder’s An Introduction to Grand Canyon Prehistory, available in the GCA online bookstore.