“The bear, the deer, the great eagle…these are our brothers.”

-Native Americans 

They are special people, deeply connected with the nature and so spiritually advanced that we will never reach that level of spirituality. We will never manage to recognize the ancient wisdom, hidden in the blood of the mythical ancestors and covered by the silence of wonderful natural landscape and magical wildlife. They are Native Americans. The flesh and bones of the American continent, the real owners of the land and its beauty. The real guardians of the nature, its whisperers.


 There are so many Native American tribes and each of them is unique with the attributes and folklore we will never forget. The books and movies are powerless to describe the overwhelming allure of the Indian tradition but the possibility to feel, just for a moment, the colors of their world is the vein of the American tourism nowadays and also the source of income for many tribes that are located all over the reservations across the U.S.

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One of them is definitely the Havasupai Indian Reservation, created for the Havasupai people on the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The capital of the Reservation is known as Havasupai or Supai  city  and it is  direct on the following geographical parameters: 36°14′13″N 112°41′21″W but the whole complex  with the 639 tribe members  is in the Coconino County, Arizona and consists of 188,000 acres. It is not only about the perfect location for a tourism, it is about the fact that history, anthropology and beautiful nature are united in one name: Havasupai Indian Reservation that annually attracts more than 20,000 visitors around the world that come there to experience the touch of wildness mixed with ancient customs. According to the report of the foundation Stop the Animal Violence, there are many reasons for tourists to get involved in the Havasupai Tribe Reservation:“Each year, over 20,000 visitors hike, ride horses, or fly by helicopter the last 8 miles into the canyon where the Havasupai Indians live.Tourists from around the world come to Havasupai to see this remote Indian village tucked away in the Grand Canyon, to see the last U.S. mail mule train in the country, to see the turquoise blue water (cont’d) and travertine pools of Cataract Creek, and to see the beauty of Navajo, Havasu and Mooney Waterfalls, and to camp, swim and play in this unbelievable setting.Tourism provides revenues for the Havasupai Reservation and the Havasupai Tribe is actively engaged in the tourism business. There are also small businesses owned and operated by tribal
members. Some tribal members engage in part-time micro-business activities such as the production and selling of arts and crafts to visitors”

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The all they do is allowed, regular and out of any negative consideration but there are some cases and situations that don’t speak good about the spirit of the Reservation but only bad, especially when it comes to the animal abuse and animal neglect. In recent times, those kind of accusations are often seen in the social media and signed by visitors and proved by photos of tourists, but the abuse reports have been reporting for last 40 years.The portrait of Native Americans that abuse animals just for a purpose of profit is something that is more than shocking and indicates the condemn by majority of people. It is simply something what doesn’t fit into the puzzle of Mother Nature’s beloved children. The animal abuse don’t represent the value and importance of the whole tribe but it is the urgent need to be evaluated and stopped for the sake of the whole community and its rank in the Native American tribe encyklopedia.


Who are the Havasupai people ? The original name in Yuman language  says that they are the people of the blue-green waters and that they have always lived the semi-nomadic life but totally attached to the water. Their origins could be found there for the last 1,000 years and linked to the old Yuma tribe.Unfortunately,during the colonization of America by white people, their land has been taken and they have been forced to live in the limited area. The history of conflicts between U.S. Government and the local tribes is well known for years but even when the land is given back, they are not set free from the stress of fighting for their rights and against the cooperative greed of the growing capitalism. The tourism money is something that is almost like a substitute for all accumulated problems for years on the relation: Modern Americans vs. Native Americans.

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The people who believe in great Tochopa, the Creator god of Havasupai legends that is a grandfather of the humanity, are those who are accused to abuse and neglect their animals.The main reason for all of us to be negatively surprised is the fact that this tribe finds land and nature sacred, so how it is possible then for them  to forget that animals are also the creatures of Mother Nature ?


The organization S.A.V.E does the wonderful and hard job. They are trying to expose and stop the animal abuse of the horses and pack animals in this Reservation. They are collecting the comments and pictures from the ground by tourists and try to bring awareness up. For tribe it seems it is all about the money and tourist paying for a day or two of Reservation Paradise. The animals are paying for it by their lives and it seems that none is informed about it, maybe only those who directly have witnessed to it. Here is the short tip of the Dee Dee Lepper that has visited the Havasupai Indian Reservation and saw the horror:“I hiked there about two years ago and there were actually two horse that had collapsed along the trail and were set on fire to burn there carcasses. I will never go back because of the way they treat their animals.” Mark Barringer comes out with the another picture from the ground:“I have been to Havasupai five or six times and have always carried my own gear in and out (luckily for me and for those poor animals). However, one of the trips we did witness that one of the horses had fallen and was literally left on the trail near the trailhead at the top with a possible broken neck (was laying on its side with blood coming out the mouth and nose). We were extremely surprised of the neglect and took it upon ourselves to bring the poor animal water, but was really expecting them to either put it down or help it up to heal, and no one paid any mind to the poor horse.” Then La Lakioka has writing on the TripAdvisor the following:“I went to Havasupai and witness a poor animal overloaded to the point it was collapsing, the owner took a large rock and started smashing its head to try and force it to move,sickening. I reported to authorities and nothing has been done that’s 15 years ago. The abuse is acceptable down there. I never use those poor abused horses. needs to be consequences put in place.”


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The comments of the tourists that have experienced the pictures of the pain of neglected and abused animals are numerous but it seems that none is really bothered about it. It is stated that tribe members make jokes about the injured animals and when they can not endure more, because they are overloaded or hurt or simply collapsed because of the lack of water, they kick them and beat them with rocks. No, this is not a trailer from some American scary movie, when the tourists are lost and on the mercy of local mutant butchers somewhere in the middle of nowhere, this is the reality of the tourism nowadays in the Havasupai Indian Reservation.  The problem is that old tourists will never ever come back but new come every day until they discover how tribes earns a money, on the pain of innocent horses, donkeys and other animals misused for the purpose of profit, without any awareness of the animals rights in the progressed America.


On the daily accusations,  Carletta Tilousi, a member of the Havasupai Tribal Council, has said for the Arizona Highways:”We have an animal control officer to respond to any incidents, and they do the evaluation. If we need a veterinarian to come down, we would have them do so. They usually visit the village every three months, and we’re currently scheduled for a spay and neuter for our dogs and cats. Those are usually scheduled ahead of time, and they are all volunteers.” That doesn’t promise at all. Based on the all reports, the tribe members do not call the veterinarians but rather they let the animals die and find the new victim easily for the local needs. You can not exploit the animals without persecutions and it really doesn’t matter if you come from the last indigenous tribe or not. This is 21st century and everyone must take responsibility in the society, even the people of the legendary Tochopa.

Graphic horse or burro carcass

As Susan Ash, the co-founder of the Stop Violence aka S.A.V.E. organization said, the many people think that violence can not be stopped or treated because it occurs on the tribal land. People must keep in mind that something can be done and they must keep reporting and asking from authorities to deal with this high level of abuse. In 2016, Susan Ash met the  U.S. District Attorney’s office, two BIA officers and an FBI officer:“Shortly after that meeting, federal authorities went into
Supai and arrested Leland Joe. He was charged with two felony counts of animal abuse and two misdemeanor charges. His four horses were seized and taken to a local humane organization where one is still recovering. This action by federal authorities dispels the myth that nothing can be done. Jurisdiction is complicated and is a patchwork of federal, state and tribal laws, but legal action can be taken.”


Everyone can do something, anything regarding this burning issue. How we will force the tribe to change their neglecting policy of animal rights? By condemning their tourist offers. When money stop coming, they will start taking seriously the claims against them and start dealing with the problems and finally start treating animals as they deserve. Those people who ignore the pain of animals and only focus on the money they get have nothing from the ancient tribes and they do not deserve to be taken as the valuable Native American community,. Their behaviour is shameful and those who participate in this trend do not share the love for the Nature but the love for the profit and greed. Once affected with the public opinion boycott and the failure of tourism based on the animal abuse they are practising, they will work on their new and acceptable model of human treatment of animal friends.

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The Nature will not forgive them their cruelty so us our indifference. This Earth belongs to all and we must keep each other aware of it. One great Native American once said:“Only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish have been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money.” The Havasupai Native Americans have forgotten that obviously, they betrayed the ancient connections with the sacred land and wildlife. They have so much to learn yet.



  1. Sarah’s imperative and invaluable article brought to mind the history of packhorses during World War I; in reference to 1917 (this being 2017). The use of packhorses by humans dates to The Neolithic Age (10,200 – 2000 BCE), and the erosion of deference for animals among Homo sapiens has its origin in this historical period (i.e. it was when the reverence of the bull became subjugated by Commerce).

    The use of horses in World War I marked a transitional period in the evolution of armed conflict. Initially, cavalry units were considered essential offensive elements of a military force, but over the course of the war, the vulnerability of horses to modern machine gun and artillery fire reduced their utility on the battlefield. This paralleled the development of tanks, which would ultimately replace cavalry in shock tactics. While the perceived value of the horse in war changed dramatically, horses still played a significant role throughout the conflict. However, nobody was carrying out any research on how the warfare was affecting the horses themselves, physiologically and psychologically. In other words, like the millions of Working-Class young men killing each other in the name of Commerce, horses and men alike were considered disposable resources (i.e. inexpensive commodities) by the elite individuals who brought about the war and who were profiting by it.

    The military mainly used horses for logistical support: they were better than mechanized vehicles at travelling through deep mud and over rough terrain. Horses were used for reconnaissance and for carrying messengers, as well as pulling artillery, ambulances and supply wagons. The presence of horses increased morale among the soldiers at the front, but the animals contributed to disease and poor sanitation in camps, caused by their manure and carcasses. The value of horses, and the increasing difficulty of replacing them, was such that by 1917 some troops were told that the loss of a horse was of greater tactical concern than the loss of a human soldier. Ultimately, the blockade of Germany prevented The Central Powers from importing horses to replace those lost; which contributed to Germany’s defeat. By the end of the war, even the well-supplied US-Army was short of horses.

    Conditions were severe for horses at the front: they were killed by artillery fire, suffered from skin disorders and were injured by poison gas. Hundreds of thousands of horses died, and many more were treated at veterinary hospitals and sent back to the horrific conditions of the front lines. Procuring fodder was a major issue, and Germany lost many horses to starvation.

    Battle losses of horses were approximately 25% of all war-related equine deaths, between 1914 and 1916. Disease and exhaustion accounted for the remainder and the Germans specifically targeted horses with gunfire. The highest death rates were in East Africa, where in 1916 alone deaths accounted for 90% of the initial stock numbers; mainly, due to infection from the tsetse fly. During some periods of the war, 1,000 horses per day were arriving in Europe as remounts for British troops, to replace horses lost. Some horses, having collapsed from exhaustion, drowned in ankle-deep mud, too tired to lift their heads high enough to breathe.

    Equine casualties were especially high during battles of attrition: in March of 1917, 7,000 horses were killed by long-range shelling on both sides. By 1917, Britain had over a million horses and mules in service, but harsh conditions (especially, during winter) resulted in heavy losses. Over the course of the war, Britain lost over 484,000 horses.

    Feeding horses was a major issue, and horse fodder was the single largest commodity shipped to the front by some countries. Horses ate around ten times as much food by weight as a human, and hay and oats further burdened already overloaded transport services. In 1917, Allied operations were threatened when horse feed rations were reduced after German submarine activity restricted supplies of oats from North America; combined with poor Italian harvests. The Germans faced an even worse fodder crisis, as they had underestimated the amount of food they needed to import and stockpile before the beginning of the war. Sawdust was mixed with food during times of shortage to ease the horses’ sense of hunger.

    Despite the boost in morale, horses were a health hazard for the soldiers; mainly, because of the difficulty of maintaining high levels of hygiene around horses. Horse manure was commonplace in the battle and staging areas on several fronts, creating breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects.

    Many horses died as a result of the conditions at the front, from exhaustion, drowning, becoming mired in mud and falling in shell holes. Horses endured poor feeding and care, poison gas attacks that injured their respiratory systems and skin, and skin conditions such as mange.

    Soldiers found that better-bred horses were more likely to suffer from shell-shock and become frightened when exposed to the sights and sounds of war than less-well-bred animals, who often learned to lie down and take cover at the sound of artillery fire. Veterinary hospitals were established to assist horses in recovering from shell-shock and battle wounds, but thousands of equine corpses still lined the roads of The Western Front. In one year, 120,000 horses were treated for wounds or disease by British veterinary hospitals alone.

    When the war ended, many horses were killed due to age or illness, while younger ones were sold to slaughterhouses or to locals; often, upsetting the soldiers who had to give up their beloved mounts.

    In modern warfare, pack mules are used to bring supplies to areas where roads are poor and fuel supply is uncertain. For example, they are a critical part of the supply chain for all sides of the conflict in remote parts of Afghanistan.

    As Sarah’s touching article alludes to, unless humans cease to exploit animals (for whatever reason), they will never find their way back to that prehistoric reverence of animals…

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  2. Thank you, Sarah, for such an enlightening article. It’s sad to see our beautiful nature being treated by us humans in this cruel way. It is incredibly shocking when such cruel treatment comes from people who are thought to be the guardians and preservers of our beloved nature, the native Americans.
    This is not to justify their wrong doing, but to look at the issue from a different angle. It looks like we have been neglecting the native Americans and their alike worldwide, so nature has been sad and paying a grave toll. In one way or the other, we have been contributing to such evil act carried by the native Americans. Our governments in the US have not invested enough in improving the life style of the native Americans. Native Americans, their lands, and their animals have been used for our own entertainment and money making. Native Americans used to grow their own crops, fruits, and vegetable more than enough for themselves and their animals. Now they are going with their animals hungry after our money as tourists and forgetting that the value of the money is in their land, which they are blessed with. Taking pictures of tortured animals, exposing them, or signing petitions would not resolve the problem. To resolve the problem, we need to sincerely invest in improving their life style, and investing in protecting our nature.

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  3. Thank you, Sarah, for educating us on this important, yet so sad subject !

    It is deplorable that the animals in the Havasupai reservation are treated with such indignity and cruelty !

    This is what greed does to “humans”, as greed as one of the main roots of evil in our society and today’s world !

    I have always been a strong believer in and an advocate of the fact that life is not at all about money, but about love, respect, compassion, empathy, sympathy, and mercy !

    These atrocities, from hurting those animals to killing them, have to stop immediately ! Tourists have to boycott the Havasupai reservation until its people stop their heinous practice. Only then, will its people understand that they have to mend their ways in treating their animals !

    We, animal lovers and animal advocates, shall remain both resolute and relentless in our fight for the voiceless, for we are their only voice !

    As I always say “Justice shall prevail ! ”

    Thank you for your exposé, Sarah !

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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !