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Today President Biden spoke at 11am local time to announce his designation of Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.

The new national monument will conserve approximately one million acres adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park.

Thousands of cultural and sacred sites will be protected under the proclamation, while also preserving the land from uranium mining, which has been a topic of much contention in the Southwest.

“Many of us have worked for decades to safeguard our Grand Canyon homelands from desecration at the hands of extractive, harmful operations like uranium mining, and today, with the designation of Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, we see these lands permanently protected at last,” Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition coordinator Carletta Tilousi said in a statement.

A number of Tribal Nations consider the lands of the new monument to be sacred – including the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Navajo Nation, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

The President will sign the proclamation at Red Butte, a sacred site called Wii’i Gdwiisa by the Havasupai, which stands tall above the southern portion of the monument — formerly the Tusayan District of Kaibab National Forest.

Alongside the President’s visit to Arizona today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a $44 million investment toward strengthening climate resilience in America’s National Parks system, a major win for conservation efforts.

What Makes the New Monument Unique?

The new monument is comprised of three separate sections to the south, northeast, and northwest of Grand Canyon National Park. It is bordered by the Kanab watershed and Kanab Creek in the northwestern section, the Havasupai Indian Reservation and Navajo Nation in the southern section, and reaches from Marble Canyon to the eastern edge of the Kaibab Plateau in the northeastern area.

The monument protects 917,618 acres of public lands managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

Broad plateaus and deep canyons with occasional isolated creeks and towering cliffs define the monument’s landscape. Supporting some of the most biodiverse environments in the region ranging from sagebrush plains to lush riparian zones, the monument provides refuge for a variety wildlife — the most spectacular of which include bighorn sheep, mule deer, bison, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles.

The new monument also contains more than 3,000 known cultural and historic sites, 12 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This designation can also be viewed as a way to address and recognize the history of excluding and dispossessing Tribal Nations from their sacred lands. As Interior Secretary Deb Haaland noted, the Havasupai Tribe once lived on an expanse of land far bigger than that of their current reservation, and were driven from their homelands when Grand Canyon National Park was designated in 1919.

“Their story is one shared by many tribes in the southwest who trace their origins to the Grand Canyon, and the plateaus and tributaries that surround it and who have persevered by continuing their longstanding practices on sacred homelands just outside the boundaries of the park,” Haaland said.

Under the decree of the new monument, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture will now be expected to engage with Tribes via consultations, co-stewardship agreements, and other ways. This will make sure that the management of the monument occurs in collaboration with indigenous people and reflects the knowledge expertise through countless generations of living on the Colorado Plateau.

Will the New Monument Allow Grazing, Hunting, and Fishing?

According to a statement released by the White House, the new monument will still respect existing livestock grazing permits while preserving access for hunting and fishing.

More About The Grand Canyon Region

Jake Case

Jake is a naturalist, writer, and landscape photographer from Arizona. A geographer by education, he’s worked as a park ranger with the National Park Service, a tour guide at the Grand Canyon South Rim, and a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Jake has seriously practiced landscape photography since 2009. You can learn more about Jake on the About page.

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