STATEMENT on President Biden’s expected designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument

Aug 4, 2023

The Biden-Harris administration is listening to Tribal nations seeking greater protections for the Grand Canyon region

DENVER—The Washington Post is reporting that President Joe Biden is considering using his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate 1.1 million acres of public land surrounding the Grand Canyon as the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument next week while he is in Arizona.

The monument is being proposed by a large group of Tribes called the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, which includes members of the Havasupai, Hopi, and Hualapai Tribes, as well as the Kaibab Paiute Tribe, the Las Vegas Band of Paiute, the Moapa Band of Paiutes, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, the Navajo Nation, the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, the Yavapai-Apache Nation, the Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Protecting the area from uranium mining will help safeguard underground aquifers and critical drinking water supplies for nearby communities.

Support for President Joe Biden designating a new national monument around Grand Canyon National Park is high among Arizona voters. According to a recent poll touted by Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, 75 percent of those surveyed support designating existing public lands immediately outside the Grand Canyon as a national monument, with 48 percent responding they strongly support the idea. Similarly, in a soon-to-be-released poll from the Center for Western Priorities’ Winning the West campaign, 79 percent of Arizonans surveyed support the proposal to create the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument to include more than 1 million acres adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park in order to protect tribal cultural and historic sites against any future mining claims, while also enhancing the natural, recreational, and scientific resources of the region.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Director of Campaigns Lauren Bogard:

“The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic and widely recognized natural features in the world, drawing millions of visitors each year to marvel at its grandeur and appreciate the winding path of the Colorado River through its canyons. What is less well known is the human history of the Indigenous people who trace their ancestral roots to this area and want to see this sacred landscape protected from the threat of uranium mining. The establishment of this monument is driven by a large group of Tribes and it is both timely and critical that their narrative be a central part of the story of what makes this area magnificent and worthy of greater protection and respect.

“Lawmakers have repeatedly introduced legislation to permanently protect the landscape surrounding the Grand Canyon only to be stymied by a dysfunctional Congress. Coincidentally, this is not the first time an American President has used the authority under the Antiquities Act to protect this stunning landscape, a decision that has provided lasting benefit for generations of Americans and visitors from across the world. We are pleased to hear that President Biden is likely to honor the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition’s desire to protect this culturally significant landscape from the threat of uranium mining, an activity with a toxic legacy in the West. Doing so will bring his administration one step closer to reaching the goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, a target scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate impacts and biodiversity collapse.”

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Featured Image: HarshLight/Flickr