Affiliated Tribes of Great Sand Dunes

A tipi stands in front of the dunes and mountains beyond
This tipi was set up in front of the dunes during a cultural event. Regional tribes maintain an important connection with Great Sand Dunes.

NPS/Patrick Myers

A few of the regional tribal names for Great Sand Dunes:
Ute: So-wop-a-wot – ‘where the sand is’
Jicarilla Apache: Seinanyédi – ‘it goes up and down’
Navajo (Diné): Tsé-whíz-hosh – ‘sand comes back down on you’

North America contains the traditional homelands of diverse Indigenous peoples. Each tribe has distinctive dress, cultural practices, traditional tools and crafts, recipes, music, games, and artwork.

Great Sand Dunes' affiliated tribes share their traditional knowledge and culture through consultation with park staff and public programs. For them, this special place is not just a vacation destination, but home.

Tribal Consultation

It is the mission of the National Park Service (NPS) to tell the stories of our country. By conducting tribal consultation, the NPS learns so much more about the landscapes that we are charged with protecting and interpreting. The benefits of the consultation are many, including the transmission of multigenerational cultural knowledge, continuation of traditional use practices resulting in connection with the ancestral landscape, protection of resources by engaging future management partnerships, and communication of Native American perspective and interpretation to the public.

On This Page:

  • Official seals of Great Sand Dunes’ affiliated tribes, with links to the tribes' websites where they share information about their values, heritage, culture, and communities
  • Photo galleries of tribes' cultural presentations and visits to Great Sand Dunes
  • Two videos highlighting cultural aspects of the Jicarilla Apache and Navajo (Dineh), presented by tribal members
Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
2 minutes, 39 seconds

Tribal Elder Bryan Vigil shares some traditional Jicarilla Apache stories about the North Star, Big Dipper, and Milky Way. NPS video description: The video opens with an image of Jicarilla Apache elder Bryan Vigil inside a tipi, with a campfire below him. For most of the video, Bryan sits beside a younger Apache man telling star stories, with the dunes and mountains in the background. Photos of the North Star, Big Dipper, and Milky Way over the dunes appear as he speaks of each one.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
7 minutes, 55 seconds

Blanca Peak (14,345 feet/4,372m), located just south of Great Sand Dunes, is one of four sacred mountains to the Navajo (Dine') people. In this 8-minute video podcast, Park Ranger Ravis Henry sings and tells their story of Sisnaajini - the White Shell Mountain, as well as the importance of Great Sand Dunes to his people. For clearest and fastest viewing, choose the best resolution for your connection and device using the icons at lower right. Closed captioning for this video is available on the park's YouTube Channel: Special thanks to Timothy Begay and Tamara Billie of the Navajo Nation for their ongoing input and consultation with Great Sand Dunes staff.

Closed captioning available on YouTube


Last updated: May 8, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146


719 378-6395
Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center main number

Contact Us