Planning

Visiting Tribal Lands

Each of the 22 American Indian Tribes in Arizona operates under its own unique government and rules for visitors, and what applies in one Tribal community may not apply to others. Please observe all Tribal laws and regulations. For specific information, contact the individual tribe(s) prior to your visit.

Basic Guidelines

  • Taking photos, video and audio recordings, as well as sketching, is a particularly sensitive issue. Permits may be required, and fees and restrictions vary, particularly for professionals. Therefore, it is important to contact each individual Tribe regarding its policies. Do not attempt to engage in any of the above-mentioned activities without prior authorization. Failure to comply with Tribal regulations could result in fines, confiscation of equipment and/or expulsion from Tribal Lands.
  • Dances are sacred ceremonies. Observe them as you would any other religious function by dressing and acting appropriately. Be mindful of where you sit, stand and walk. For example, at certain Hopi dances, men and women sit apart; during pow wows, it may not be appropriate to stand beside a drum; and it is inappropriate to walk across the pow wow arena during a dance. Never pick up any object that is dropped during a ceremony. Please refrain from talking to the ceremonial dancers. Applause after ceremonial dances is considered inappropriate.
  • Some of the Tribal buildings and structures may be several hundred years old and damage easily; do not climb on walls or other structures. Do not disturb or remove animals, plants, rocks or artifacts including pot shards, as Tribal and federal laws prohibit the removal of such items.
  • Use caution when driving, especially at night. Much of the reservation land is open range, and small herds of sheep, goats, cattle and horses move freely along and across roads.
  • Like any community, a reservation is a home to those who live and work there and should be respected as such. Although most reservation communities are open to the public during daylight hours, the homes are private and should be entered only by invitation.

Tribal Travel Tips

  • Road Conditions
    All U.S. highways, state roads and main tribal roads are paved. Secondary roads are usually graded and graveled. However, travel off recognized and numbered roads is strongly discouraged. Inquire locally about road conditions.
  • Cell Service and GPS Wayfinding
    Be aware that cellular phone service will not work in all areas depending on your service provider. Likewise, GPS is not a reliable source of travel routes in some areas. Consult with a Tribal guide before venturing out into more remote spaces.
  • Service
    Keep your gas tank full, and check fluid levels; it can be a very long way between service stations.
  • Weather
    Be prepared for anything. Winters can produce snow six feet deep. Summer temperatures are often over 100 degrees. Winds may blow with gale-force any time of the year. High-profile vehicles may have to find a place out of the wind and stop.
  • Flash Flooding
    After hard rains, normally dry washes often become roaring streams from storms that are miles away. Never attempt to cross a running creek.
  • Dust Storms
    Some areas (usually marked with warning signs) are prone to dust storms. If caught in a dust storm, try to find a place to get off the road.

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