Just one day after we reported that Arizonans are in strong support of the proposed Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument, President Biden is reportedly strongly considering the plan.
“No decisions have been made,” White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said in a statement, “But I can tell you that President Biden has conserved more land and water in his first year than any president since JFK, and his climate protection record is unmatched.”
Leaders from the indigenous tribes of the region have asked the White House to conserve about 1.1 million acres —an area almost as big as the state of Rhode Island. For years, local tribal leaders and environmental advocates have campaigned ardently to safeguard the proposed land from uranium mining, a practice they fear could endanger aquifers and water supplies.
Next week, President Biden will take a trip passing through Arizona, which will predominantly focus on climate change and environmental issues, which are high on the President’s agenda. Indications hint towards a significant announcement related to the Grand Canyon early next week, which coincides with the President’s itinerary. Federal authorities have begun to alert tribal and environmental representatives to be prepared for this potential announcement.
Supporters have been pushing for the area to be declared a monument, partly as a tribute to the enduring relationship between Native American tribes and the Grand Canyon. This connection stretches back over countless generations and is deeply rooted in their traditions and cultural heritage.
The proposed name draws from the indigenous connections to the region: Baaj Nwaavjo means “where tribes roam” in Havasupai, and I’tah Kukveni means “our footprints” in Hopi. Other tribes like the Hualapai have also advocated for the designation.
In a statement, Havasupai Tribal Council member Dianna Sue WhiteDove Uqualla said, “This monument will show that we are beginning to protect the lands of the world.”
With the impending expiration of a uranium mining prohibition established in 2012 during Obama’s presidency, tribal communities and environmentalists are growing increasingly anxious. Their primary concerns revolve around the potential impact additional mining could have on clean water resources and the disturbance it could cause to revered lands.
This isn’t the tribes’ first appeal to the federal government for the preservation of this area. The proposal was sent to the Obama administration, which ultimately decided to preserve Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah instead. Bears Ears was proposed by a coalition comprised of the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, and Zuni Pueblo.
The Washington Post was the first to report the news.
Map of the Proposed Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument
The proposed Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument includes about 1.1 million acres of federal and state land near existing Grand Canyon National Park.
Map Credit: https://keepitgrandaz.org/map/