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Has Grand Canyon Skywalk Helped the Hualapai?

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's Ted Robbins went back for another visit to see if it has.

TED ROBBINS: The last time I put on surgical booties to avoid scratching the glass floor of the Grand Canyon Skywalk I was surrounded by TV crews from around the world. All that publicity seems to have worked. Today, I'm surrounded by paying customers from around the world - Europe, Australia, Asia. People like Jane and Paul Lucas on their honeymoon from Black Pool, England.

MONTAGNE: Absolutely amazing.

MONTAGNE: It's hard to think of words.

MONTAGNE: Yeah.

MONTAGNE: We were just saying, How are we going to describe it at home, because you just can't.

BANCHI: Beijing, yeah.

ROBBINS: Tell me your name.

BANCHI: Banchi(ph). Banchi.

ROBBINS: What do you think? How are you feeling?

BANCHI: Very nice.

ROBBINS: Lola Wood is assistant general manager.

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MONTAGNE: The museum will showcase native culture, because next to the money the Hualapai say sharing their culture is the biggest opportunity here.

MONTAGNE: Nice to meet you.

ROBBINS: Outside the skywalk, Wilford Watanami Junior(ph) welcomes visitors like Helen Thompson from Denmark.

MONTAGNE: So how's everything out here?

MONTAGNE: Great.

MONTAGNE: Great?

MONTAGNE: Yes.

MONTAGNE: Did you do the Skywalk?

MONTAGNE: No.

MONTAGNE: No?

MONTAGNE: No.

MONTAGNE: Why?

MONTAGNE: I'm afraid of heights.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROBBINS: Watanami wears traditional native dress - shell necklace, eagle feather in his hair. Visitors from overseas tell him this is the first time they've ever met a Native American.

MONTAGNE: One thing they always mention, too, is, oh, you speak English. You speak good English. And so, you know, yeah, you know, we went to school and, you know, we're educated. I mean, you know, you get that almost every day.

ROBBINS: For Assistant General Manager Lola Wood the visitors have been a blessing, though sometimes a mixed blessing. After all, the Hualapai gave up some of their sacred land to development.

MONTAGNE: It was a big sacrifice the tribe made. And if you sacrifice something you want it to be appreciated. And a cigarette butt on the ground is not a sign of appreciation.

ROBBINS: Ted Robbins, NPR News.

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MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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