FLAG’S STICK, Arizona- Members of the Center for Biological Diversity will travel from across Arizona today to support the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument proposed by the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition at a federal listening session in Flagstaff. baaj nwaavjo means “where the tribes roam” for the Havasupai tribe, and I’tah Kukveni means “our ancestral footprints” for the Hopi tribe.
“We applaud the Biden administration for coming to Arizona to hear directly from the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition and the many supporters of this historic proposal,” said Taylor McKinnon, Southwest Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument will protect tribal ancestral cultural landscapes, sacred sites, and the spectacular riparian lands that flank the Grand Canyon. It will protect the region’s precious aquifers, life-giving springs, and endangered species from deadly contamination from uranium mining. President Biden should honor the wisdom of the tribal nations of Arizona and designate this monument immediately.”
The 1.1 million acres proposed monument it enjoys broad support from the public, regional businesses, governments and elected officials. It encompasses the ancestral lands of various regional tribes and is based on efforts since 2008 to permanently protect the adjacent Grand Canyon landscapes from new uranium mining.
The listening session, hosted by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, will solicit feedback on the monument proposal from tribal leaders and the public. Polls in Arizona show strong support for permanent protection of the proposed monument area.
“On behalf of the Center’s more than 1 million members and supporters, many thanks to Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo and other tribal leaders for their vision in creating this historic proposal,” McKinnon said. “We join with them in urging President Biden to realize that vision and establish his legacy as an environmental and tribal ally in Arizona by designating Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument.”
The iconic rims of the monument form the basin of the Grand Canyon. Home to sacred sites like Red Butte, its ecological diversity includes federally protected species like California condors and dozens of plants found only in the region. Its boundary is similar to that of northern Arizona from 2012 withdrawal which banned new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon for 20 years. Federal legislation, introduced but never passed, would have made the mining ban permanent.
Uranium mining around the Grand Canyon has damaged sacred sites and depleted and contaminated aquifers that feed the iconic canyon’s springs and streams. The proposed monument would permanently ban new mines. Uranium mining in concessions prior to the 2012 withdrawal, such as the pinion plains the mine near the south rim of the Grand Canyon, would be exempt from and still threaten the region’s aquifers, springs and cultural heritage.
The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition is comprised of the Havasupai Tribe, the Hopi Tribe, the Hualapai Tribe, the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, the Las Vegas Band of Paiute Indians, the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, the Navajo Nation, the Utah Paiute Indian, the Southern Paiute of the San Juan Tribe, Zuni Pueblo, and Yavapai-Apache Nation.