Baaj nwaavjo i'tah kukveni

Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument

Biden Arrives in Tusyan declaring new Grand Canyon monument, protecting nearly 1 million acres from uranium mining

According to reports, the announcement will be official Tuesday morning, after President Joe Biden had landed at Grand Canyon National Park Airport on Monday night.

The new monument “honors our solemn promise to Tribal Nations to respect sovereignty, preserves America’s iconic landscapes for future generations, and advances my commitment to protect and conserve at least 30% of our nation’s land and waters by 2030,” Biden said in a statement about the monument designation.

“Baaj Nwaavjo” means “where tribes roam,” for the Havasupai people, while, for the Hopi tribe, “I’tah Kukveni” translates to “our footprints.”

The new monument comes after years of work on the part of tribes and conservation groups to see areas around Grand Canyon National Park protected from uranium mining in particular. The monument will largely eliminate the possibility of future mining within the designated area.

Existing mines would still be able to operate.

In April, a coalition of 13 tribes began a renewed push for the Biden administration to declare the area a new monument.

Havasupai Councilmember Stewart Chavez told the Arizona Daily Sun he was almost taken aback by the announcement. He and others thought it would at least take several more months to convince the administration to declare the monument.

“It just happened so fast,” Chavez said. “It’s almost like whiplash.”

Chavez said that feeling is especially pronounced given how long he and other tribal members have been fighting for a monument designation and the protections that come with it.

“There are generations before me that are gone that are definitely rejoiceful in the spirit world at this point,” he said. “I think the message that I have is ‘thank you, from the bottom of my heart’ — for someone to have finally acknowledge Indigenous tribes, and it took this long, but for someone to actually respond, understand the request that we’ve had for years, the importance of preserving not only our history, but also our culture and the land for future generations.”

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