Big CanyonOne of the most famous public properties in the country is National Park, but nearby acreage has long been coveted by developers, particularly uranium miners.
The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition is asking President Joe Bidento to designate 1.1 million acres of land north and south of the park as the Baaj Nwaavjo I vah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument in order to permanently conserve these areas.
Every Havasupai person is a part of the canyon. At a virtual press conference asking for the designation of the monument on Tuesday, Havasupai Tribe Vice Chair Edmond Tilousi stated, “It is our home, it is our land, our source of water, and our very being.”
The Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Paiute Tribe, Las Vegas Band of Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and Colorado River Indian Tribes are all represented in the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition. The proposed monument highlights the close ties that these Tribes have to the area surrounding the Grand Canyon. For the Havasupai Tribe, “baj nwaavjo” means “where tribes roam,” and for the Hopi Tribe, “i tah kukveni” means “our footprints.”
According to Hopi Tribe Chairman Tim Nuvangyaomas, the Grand Canyon is the form in which the creator gave us a gift. The splendor and magnificence of this location, which is home to numerous tribes, must be preserved.
Grand Canyon Trust asserts that only public properties would be included in the proposed monument. Within its boundaries are springs and rivers that flow into the Colorado River, as well as places that are historically significant or holy to Indigenous cultures, such Red Butte.
Although there are over 600 undeveloped mining claims in the monument site, they would not proceed if Biden agreed to designate it. The area has also been threatened by uranium mining. At least three administrations have been involved in the conflict over mining in the area. According to HuffPost, President Barack Obama enacted a 20-year mining ban close to the Grand Canyon in 2012.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the prohibition in 2017, despite legal challenges. While attempting to revitalize the country’s uranium industry, the Trump administration blocked legislation that would have permanently protected the area from uranium and other mining. The conflict and mining threat would disappear if the area was designated as a monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
Hualapai Tribe Vice Chair Scott Crozier stated, “I, as a Hualapai tribal leader, stand strongly against any mining on tribal lands and ask that you support us in this fight to stop mining.”
At the video conference, which began at 10:30 a.m. local time, the Tribes were joined by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
According to Grijalva’s remarks on Tuesday, the Grand Canyon is protected by the national monument, according to AZ Mirror. The Indigenous people and tribes who view the Grand Canyon in a more meaningful and in-depth manner are given security by it.
Other environmental organizations support the call for a monument.
According to Sandy Bahr, who leads the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, this historic tribal-led initiative would safeguard lands and waters crucial to the region, including the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property, and protect lands that surround one of the country’s most well-known national parks. We request that the President creates the Baaj Nwaavjo I tah Kukveni Grand Canyon national monument after hearing from Arizonans and Tribal leaders.