GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Dancers of all ages from Flagstaff’s Ballet Folklorico de Colores took the stage Sept. 30 as Grand Canyon National Park celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and National Public Lands Day.
The group performed a number of traditional dances from Mexico, complete with colorful costumes and the easily-recognized sombreros. The dancers didn’t let the windy day deter them from entertaining a crowd of onlookers, many of whom clapped and called out with the dancers.
Ballet Folklorico de Colores is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the historic folkloric dances of Mexico.
According to Miguel Perez, professor of journalism at City of New York’s Lehman College, the Grand Canyon has long been a place of reverence for those of Spanish descent — 67 years before the first British colonists arrived at Jamestown, Spanish conquistadors were taking in the view of the canyon from the South Rim. Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado set out with nearly 1,000 men in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, where he hoped to find large amounts of gold.
Instead, Perez said, his men were greeted with the sight of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River and the inhabitants of Hopi and Zuni Pueblos, who likely could have led the conquistadors to the bottom of the canyon but chose not to.
Not finding the riches they were searching for, Vazquez de Coronado’s men left the area, and Europeans would not lay eyes on the canyon again for nearly 250 years. In 1776, while the eastern colonies were becoming embroiled in the American Revolution, Perez said it was Spanish missionaries who were the first to come across the canyon’s colorful rock walls again.
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