Williams News Logo
Grand Canyon News Logo

Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon

Native youth invited to join Colorado River trip through Grand Canyon

2022 RIISE participants gather around a waterfall in the Grand Canyon. (Amber Benally/Grand Canyon trust)

2022 RIISE participants gather around a waterfall in the Grand Canyon. (Amber Benally/Grand Canyon trust)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Young adults 16-20 who identify as members of one of the associated tribes of the Grand Canyon are invited to apply for a spot on the second annual Grand Canyon Regional Intertribal Intergenerational Stewardship Expedition (RIISE), a nine-day intertribal Colorado River rafting trip through the Grand Canyon July 16-24.

The river trip is designed to connect Indigenous youth with cultural knowledge-holders of tribes who call the canyon home to hold conversations about the past, present and future of the Grand Canyon. Participants will share stories related to the canyon, plants, ecology, history, and environmental justice issues in the region. The trip is facilitated by the Grand Canyon Trust in collaboration with Grand Canyon Youth and provided at no cost to participants.

Those wishing to participate in the trip need to fill out an application at grandcanyontrust.org/riise. All transportation, meals, rafting and camping gear and professional guiding services are provided as well as six weeks of pre-trip education to help participants learn about the Grand Canyon and environmental issues in the region.

Up to 18 young leaders will be selected to participate in the trip. Knowledge holders accompanying the trip will include Autumn Gillard (Cedar Band of Paiutes) and Bennett Wakayuta (Hualapai and Hopi).

“Our goal is to bring young Native leaders back to their ancestral lands to learn from their elder tribal relatives the histories and stories of the Grand Canyon,” said Rising Leaders Manager Amber Benally, who helped come up with the idea for the river trip and accompanied the inaugural 2022 RIISE group. “Our people were forced from their homelands to make room for Grand Canyon National Park, and too often I hear our young people say ‘there’s nothing there for me’ or ‘I don’t belong here.’ But we do belong here. We are still here. And sharing knowledge and connecting with the canyon and with each other is an important way to remember who we are as Indigenous people,” Benally added.

This is the second RIISE trip. RIISE 2022 was only the third-ever all-Indigenous youth river trip to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and the trip had a profound impact on participants.

“The RIISE trip was like a rebirth or a cleanse of sorts,” said 2022 participant Darren Castillo (Diné). “I went in with negative thoughts and bad emotions and came back out a new man. My confidence was better than ever, and I saw the world differently.”

“The river trip, I think, has really opened up my eyes to how I view life, such that I view it in a new light, learning from how far our people have come,” said 2022 participant Wenona Tonegates (Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians).

“The comfort of being with other Native American people in our home built confidence in myself and motivated me to be great through my culture and traditions,” said Tryston Wakayuta (Hualapai/Hopi).

Applications to participate in RIISE 2023 are due May 29, 2023. More information and a link to the application may be found at grandcanyontrust.org/riise. Questions can be directed to riise@grandcanyontrust.org.

Donate Report a Typo Contact