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Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett

9 Aug 2023

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Biden’s Grand Canyon-Area Monument: A Bold Step for Tribal Heritage

President Joe Biden, in a landmark decision, proclaimed the establishment of a new national monument flanking the Grand Canyon National Park. This Biden’s Grand Canyon-area monument is designed to conserve invaluable Native American cultural landmarks. And act as a barrier against potential uranium mining.

The monument, named “Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon,” stands as a protector for numerous sacred sites revered by groups. Such as the Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Paiute, Navajo, Yavapai-Apache, Zuni, and Colorado River Indian groups.

The Deep Roots of Biden’s Grand Canyon-Area Monument

The nomenclature of the monument draws inspiration from the Havasupai words “baaj nwaavjo,”. Which means “where Indigenous peoples roam,” and the Hopi terminology “i’tah kukveny,” signifying “our ancestral footprints.”

This naming encapsulates the profound connection and veneration these groups harbor for the terrain. Alongside this monumental announcement, the Biden administration also pledged a $44 million investment to fortify climate resilience across the national parks system. Further emphasizing the importance of Biden’s Grand Canyon-area monument initiative.

Biden's Grand Canyon-Area Monument

Maya Tilousi-Lyttle, a representative of the Havasupai and Hopi groups. Accentuated the groups’ unity in their mission to shield ancestral territories. She underscored the deep-seated respect she cultivated for the land and water, symbolizing the forthcoming generation’s dedication to its guardianship.

The proclamation, a part of Biden’s Grand Canyon-area monument initiative, was endorsed near Red Butte, a locale esteemed as sacred by a multitude of Arizona Indigenous communities.

You may also like: Biden’s Grand Canyon Monument Designation: A Bold Move for Preservation

Landscape and Boundaries

Covering an expansive 917,618 acres of federal forest and range lands, the monument envelops regions like the Marble Canyon in the northeast. Lands of the Kaibab National Forest south of the Grand Canyon, and territories surrounding the Kanab Creek drainage on the Kaibab Plateau’s western flank.

The monument’s expanse is marginally smaller than the initially proposed 1.1 million-acre blueprint. This Biden’s Grand Canyon-area monument ensures the enduring moratorium on fresh uranium claims in a vast segment of the acreage. A restriction previously instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Biden's Grand Canyon-Area Monument

The inception of the new monument has ignited fervent debates and criticisms. Although it won’t terminate valid existing mineral claims. Including the uranium mine at Pinyon Plain Mine south of Tusayan, the firm operating the mine, Energy Fuels, Inc., voiced their apprehensions. They opine that the administration’s opposition to uranium mining in the vicinity undermines America’s nuclear energy sector.

Nonetheless, groups, predominantly the Havasupai, harbor apprehensions that uranium mining might taint their water sources. Endangering all life forms in the vicinity.

In summation, Biden’s Grand Canyon-area monument stands as a testament to the administration’s dedication to preserving the nation’s natural treasures. While simultaneously acknowledging the cultural and spiritual significance these lands encapsulate for Indigenous communities.

Biden’s Grand Canyon-Area Monument: A Bold Step for Tribal Heritage