New National Monument Proposal Would Protect Forty Miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail South of Grand Canyon National Park

Yesterday, tribal leaders of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, joined by Congressman Raúl Grijalva and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, launched an effort to call on President Biden to use his authorities under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. Baaj Nwaavjo means “where tribes roam” for the Havasupai Tribe, and I’tah Kukveni means “our footprints” for the Hopi Tribe. The proposal builds on the tribes’ longstanding effort to permanently protect the region.

Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument would include 1,102,501 acres adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park and includes 40 miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail. The national monument designation would honor the tribes’ deep cultural ties to the Grand Canyon and protect the area by making the temporary 20-year mining moratorium permanent, while also enhancing the cultural, natural, recreational, and scientific resources of the region. The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition consists of leadership representatives of the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Paiute Tribe, Las Vegas Band of Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

“As stewards of the land, it’s our duty to make sure we protect the land, first and foremost,” said Clark Tenakhongva, Arizona Trail Association Board Member and former Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe. “We need to be making decisions today based on what we want the land to look like one hundred years from now. Without protecting the land, air and the water from uranium mining contamination, we won’t survive into the future. This national monument will be good for Hopi, the Arizona Trail, Arizona, America, and Planet Earth. Kwak’kwy (thank you),” he said.

Just a few of the reasons to protect this area include:

  • It is the ancestral homeland of many tribes. The Grand Canyon region has been inhabited and visited by Indigenous people since time immemorial. Many natural and cultural resources that are significant and sacred to tribes remain in the area.
  • It is critical to the West’s scarce water resources. The Grand Canyon region is a significant watershed for the Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million Americans. Climate change and multi-decade drought have already caused these water resources to reach perilously low levels.
  • It is home to abundant biodiversity and unique ecology. The Grand Canyon region provides important habitat for rare and endangered species, like the California condor. It is also a critical refuge and migratory corridor for hundreds of bird species and mammals.
  • It has unique proximity to Grand Canyon National Park. An estimated 5.9 million people from around the world visit Grand Canyon National Park each year, making tourism, recreation, hunting, and angling essential to the region’s economy.

The tribes’ proposal is sure to be popular with Arizona voters. Polling consistently shows that voters in the Grand Canyon state strongly support permanent protection for the lands and waters around the Grand Canyon. One recent poll found that 86 percent of Arizona voters support presidents protecting existing public lands as national monuments and 85 percent support greater input from Native American tribes about areas with sacred or culturally important sites. And, with groundwater, creeks, and storm runoff flowing into the Colorado River from these lands, protecting the area as a national monument would help protect the river, which 89 percent of Arizona voters consider critical to the state’s economy.

“The Arizona Trail Association is proud to support our tribal partners in urging President Biden to designate this area as a national monument,” said ATA Executive Director Matthew Nelson. “The cultural, scenic and recreational resources that exist here are what make the Arizona Trail unique among America’s National Scenic Trails, and are worthy of protection in perpetuity. We would be honored to see the AZT pass through a national monument south of Grand Canyon National Park,” he said.

To sign an online petition encouraging President Biden to support the intertribal national monument proposal, please visit the Grand Canyon Trust’s website.