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The City of Phoenix made “dramatic improvements” to the trailhead of Piestewa Peak, the city’s busiest hiking mountain. It reopened on Friday after a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The peak was re-named in 2003 to honor Lori Piestewa, Hopi, who was the first woman to be killed in combat overseas. New improvements include an 84-ton steel bridge, renovated ramadas, parking, water faucets, and signage.

The Piestewa family played a role in planning the $21 million dollar renovation, including writing the words on the signage. The signs tell hikers that Piestewa’s death had a “profound impact” across various communities.

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“Native Americans are present in this city,” says Hopi Chairman Chief of Staff Bruce Talawyma. “This is the icon for us — and for it to bring attention to Lori Piestewa is a big, big step in the right direction.”

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at

Cover photo by Tomás Karmelo Amaya, Yoeme, A:shiwi and Rarámuri