OAN’s Abril Elfi
3:00 PM – Tuesday, August 8, 2023
President Joe Biden signed a proclamation regarding the establishment of a new national monument in Arizona which references the prohibition of uranium mining in areas sacred to Indigenous people.
On Tuesday, Biden designated the fifth national monument of his presidency.
The designation bans uranium mining in the area, which is around 917,000 acres. Officials added that it will also protect local hunting and fishing as well as current mining claims, grazing permits, and leases.
The president stood in the shadow of Red Butte, an area of land near the Grand Canyon, as he gave his speech and signed the proclamation.
“Today I’m proud to use my authority under the Antiquities Act to protect almost one million acres of land around Grand Canyon National Park as a new national monument – to help right the wrongs of the past and conserve this land … for all future generations,” Biden said. “Today marks an historic step in preserving the majesty of this place, first among American landmarks, sacred to tribal nations, revered by every American. It speaks to the soul of our nations, reminds them of who we are.”
The monument will be called the “Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument.”
“Baaj Nwaavjo” means “where tribes roam” in Havasupai, and “I’tah Kukveni” translates to “our ancestral footprints” in Hopi.
Tribal nations and conservationists had been requesting protection for the land for the last couple of years.
Additionally, widespread support for the establishment was made apparent in a recent statewide poll, however, local ranchers who have farmed the area for generations had their own concerns.
Daniel Harris, a critic of the new monument who works at the Arizona Farm Bureau expressed his feelings on the matter.
“Arizona Farm Bureau is concerned with the impacts to grazing rights, access and ability to maintain those allotments, and therefore cannot support a national monument designation without recognizing and protecting these uses,” said Harris. “We have shared these concerns with the [Bureau of Land Management] and White House and realized this was a done deal from day one.”
The first Native American Cabinet secretary, Deb Haaland, called Biden’s move “historic.”
“It will help protect lands that many tribes referred to as their eternal home, a place of healing and a source of spiritual sustenance,” she said. “It will help ensure that indigenous peoples can continue to use these areas for religious ceremonies, hunting and gathering of plants, medicines and other materials, including some found nowhere else on earth. It will protect objects of historic and scientific importance for the benefit of tribes, the public and for future generations.”
According to Haaland, the designation will make it possible for indigenous people to use the grounds for religious rituals, for hunting and gathering, and they also have voiced that it conveys a crucial message to the local population.
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