Evoking a Spirit of Place

"My only hope is the music and songs we offer will resonate with the world. As Hopi we were born from the sipapuni' within Grand Canyon, and when we are done we return back to the womb of our mother to rejuvenate life of a new beginning. This is the cycle. This is the Hopi way. And these are songs about that special place - Ongtupqa." 

 Clark Tenakhongva


Music has the power to connect people to place in a profound way. With the Desert View Watchtower offering one of the world’s most renowned cultural and geographic landscapes, a trio of musicians with a strong connection to Grand Canyon recorded music inside the Watchtower on October 17, 2017. Through traditional Hopi vocals, the ancient sounds of the Hopi long flute and clay pot percussion, Ongtupqa (the Hopi name for Grand Canyon that translates to "Salt Canyon") features the oldest instruments from this corner of the world through original compositions inspired by the canyon.

Clark Tenakhongva, Gary Stroutsos and Matthew Nelson use their mastery of voice, flute and percussion to bring the acoustics within the building to life and use the Watchtower itself as an acoustic vessel.


This music was created on-site with reverence for the space that could never be replicated in a music studio far from the views and spirit of Grand Canyon. Ongtupqa is the first recording of its kind for this special location – an acoustic soundscape intended to celebrate and honor the surrounding landscape.

The 53-minute audio recording is complemented by a 48-minute video, featuring stunning images of Grand Canyon, an explanation of Hopi cultural connections to the canyon, live music footage, and much more.

10% of the sale of each CD/DVD benefits restoration efforts of the Desert View Watchtower, and the continuation of traditional music and culture for youth on the Hopi Mesas.

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Grand Canyon photo by Larry Simkins; trio photo by Levi Davis