Native American holy man reconnects with ancestors during Grand Canyon ritual

This is the moment a Native American holy man reconnects with his ancestors through song and prayer at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The religious ritual took place at the Havasupai Gardens in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, surrounded by the Grand Canyon National Park, which is home of the Native American Havasupai people.

Holy man James Uqualla carried out the ceremony to reconnect with his ancestors who used to farm the land in the area before it was taken by the National Park in the 1920s.

After carrying out the pilgrimage to the Havasupai Gardens, Uqualla performed ritualistic songs and prayers in full traditional dress.

The Grand Canyon National Park Service said in a statement: ‘For James Uqualla, a Havasupai religious practitioner, the hike from the Rim to Havasupai Gardens is a pilgrimage.

‘Dressed for ceremony, Uqualla walked to his ancestors’ traditional farming lands, where he reconnected with them through ritualistic song and prayer.’

The ceremony followed the Native American tribe’s ‘renewed relationship’ with territory taken from them in the 1920s by the National Park.

The Grand Canyon NPS said: ‘“Spend a Minute Out In It listening to chant, smelling burning sage, and feeling the spirit of Grand Canyon through its original protectors.

‘The procession marks a renewed relationship with lands taken from the Havasupai by the NPS in the 1920s.’

During a pipeline protest at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Dakota in 2016, Uqualla said many people in mainstream society fail to understand native spirituality.

He said: ‘Many people fantasise and glorify this. And we’re not here as fantasy beings or glorified beings, we’re here basically to be sentinels for a force that is unseen.

‘We’re praying to the rising sun. We’re praying to the setting sun. We’re bringing in the sacred songs. We’re building the sacred fire, so what we’ve created here is a huge vortex of such intensity that is growing skyward.’

The holy man is in touch with the land but is also in touch with social media, where he talks about his work as a spiritual advisor.

He said: ‘I am called to officiate unions, birth, blessings and healings. Tools of the spirits, eagle feathers, bones, medicine plants, drums, gourds, fire, water, assist in the needed healings, awakenings and transformations. Some call me a medicine man, sage, storyteller, wisdom keeper and priest.

‘My journey has blessed me with the divine meetings of spiritual leaders, tribally, nationally and globally. My Sacred Oratory, a lecture, is heard through out Japan, Europe, South America, and the United States. I invite you to join me in this life of experience. I am your companion in this walk.’