Native American Heritage Month: Deputy Superintendent Brian Drapeaux
To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, Grand Canyon National Park recognizes our Indigenous employees including those in leadership positions like one of our Deputy Superintendents, Brian Drapeaux. Drapeaux shares what his role is in the park’s management, the importance of Indigenous connections at Grand Canyon, and how his presence at the canyon is shaped by cultural ties to this living landscape.
“My name is Brian Drapeaux and I am from the Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate and enrolled in the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. I am married to Casey and have three grown sons and two grandsons. Grand Canyon National Park has been my first and only National Park Service job. In 2014, I arrived here as the Deputy Superintendent of Business Services, which is a role I still serve today.
I am responsible for the park’s administration which includes budget formulation and execution; IT; housing administration; commercial services involving 20 concessions contracts, transportation contracts and systems, commercial use authorizations, and special use permits; employee and organizational development; and Colorado River operations. I also serve as the park’s harassment point of contact for harassment cases in the park. So, you can imagine, like you, there are very few dull days in any given week
I’ve had the great good fortune to have visited many sites across the United States that our Native people consider to be sacred. My arrival to the Grand Canyon was an eye opener for me. I always heard about the geographical significance but never about the Indigenous connection, which runs deep.
I did not understand the cultural and spiritual connection Native people had to the canyon until hearing the oral history. I’ve heard some of the creation stories related to the Canyon and the fact that some Native people see this as the final resting place for past relatives, and eventually themselves. Knowing this has changed me in many ways. The most significant change is the way I think about and treat my presence in and around the Canyon. I give it the respect and understanding it deserves, and at times, demands from us humans. I’m honored to be here in the Canyon’s presence.”
Information provided by Grand Canyon National Park.