GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK – Native Americans who claim to protect the Grand Canyon’s lands and waters will sing, dance and celebrate their spiritual connection to the canyon on Saturday ahead of this week’s presidential visit, with their achievements reaching 1.1 million acres. We hope that it will lead to the designation of a quasi-national park. Monuments beyond the boundaries of the park.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to tour the Southwest this week, including Arizona. There is growing hope among tribesmen and environmentalists that the president will use the opportunity to develop a proposal. Baji Nuwabjo Ita Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument Located on federal land north and south of the Grand Canyon. Others, particularly local officials in northwest Arizona, oppose the plan.
Supporters’ ultimate hope is that the monument, which the government will manage in partnership with the tribes, will perpetuate the 20-year moratorium on new uranium claims imposed by the Obama administration in 2012. .
“We have to do something,” said Havasupai Tribal Council member Deanna Sue White Dove Uquala at the “Native Voices of the Canyon” event held on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Speaking to the Arizona Republic after addressing a crowd of 80. “This land is sacred. Everywhere you set foot there is a powerful connection to our elders and their souls.”
Her tribe, known as the Blue Green Water People, is part of an origin story centered around the canyon, the Colorado River, and the Little Colorado River. They point to the legacy of poison and death left by open-pit uranium mines on Navajo lands that fueled the Cold War, and fear that new mines will pollute the aquifers from which water emerges as the Grand Canyon’s springs. Are concerned.
Ukuala noted that in 2017, uranium mine operators tried to spray water that had seeped into the mine shafts into the air to evaporate it, raising rabbits that tribal members could eat and birds coming in contact with the contamination. said he was concerned about
“It doesn’t kill us like a gun,” she said. “It will continue to haunt us for generations until eventually we will cease to be human.”
Tribes and environmental groups call for construction of new monument Kaibab National Forest In addition to land south of the Grand Canyon, it also includes land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to the north, east, and west of the Kaibab Woodlands. Excitement has been building in the last few days, especially after the event. The Washington Post reported On Friday, people familiar with Biden’s thinking said he was leaning toward using his Antiquities Act powers to designate monuments. The White House didn’t respond to Republican questions, but some Arizona officials also suggested a designation could be imminent.
Here’s what you should know:Proposed Grand Canyon monument could turn 1.1 million acres into a reserve
“I expect the president and administration to designate the Grand Canyon as a national monument, and will do so in accordance with the bill I have submitted,” Sen. Kirsten Cinema of Aim, Arizona, told The Republic Wednesday. told to “We hope to hear good news on this matter as early as next week.”
The bill, also endorsed by Senator Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), envisions tribal participation in managing the monument. Rep. Raul Grijalva of the Arizona Democratic Party has endorsed the monument in one form or another over the years. The cultural significance of the land to the tribe is the primary rationale for its monumental status.
The Mojave County government in northwest Arizona, with the support of US Congressman Paul Gosar (Arizona Republican), Oppose the monument. Many of the proposed safeguards are in Coconino County, which has long supported a moratorium on uranium. But Mojave County Superintendent Travis Lingenfelter said 445,000 of those acres are in the district west of the North Rim and Kaibab Plateau. It may hamper economic development options for the city of Colorado, a long-isolated fundamentalist religious community, but it is trying to connect with the rest of the county and state, he said.
Mojave County supports the protection of tribal sacred sites, he said, but not the widespread protection that should be administered for the benefit of all Americans. “I wouldn’t say 445,000 acres of pasture is culturally sensitive,” he says.
Mr. Lingenfelter was furious that the administration did not hold hearings in his county. Republican state legislators will hold their own hearing at 5 p.m. Monday at Kingman’s county office. But for now, it may be up to voters to hold Arizona officials who align with the president to account, Lingenfelter said.
“The fact that BLM has ignored our demands and calls, and the fact that we have been excluded from public policy discussions, makes us believe that BLM is likely to move to build this monument. We are here.”
One of the uranium mines operating in the area south of the proposed memorial site but not currently producing ore will be closed so that plans can proceed to drill uranium and transport it to a plant in southeastern Utah. become. Hundreds of other existing claims could theoretically move forward as well, but evaluations are needed to determine whether they are economically viable and valid under federal law. necessary. No new claims were made during the suspension period, nor could claims be made under the monument.
Uranium mining:Senate approves increased compensation for Navajo uranium miners, downwind residents
A spokesperson for Energy Fuels, which operates . Pinyon Plains MineOnce known as the Canyon Mine, the same mine that Uquala was concerned about wildlife pollution, he said no monument was needed to protect the waters of the Grand Canyon.
“There is absolutely no scientific evidence that uranium mining on land covered by the proposed national monument has adversely affected human health, groundwater, the Grand Canyon or the environment,” spokesman Curtis Moore said. stated in an e-mail response to the question. “So we don’t think memorials are necessary.”
Moore said it was natural for tribes such as the Navajo and Hopi, who have suffered pollution from past mining practices, to be skeptical of the industry. But current mining methods are safer than the old pits left in the mid-20th century.th century, he said.
“Activist groups such as the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust are happy to use this distrust to advance the anti-nuclear political agenda,” Moore said.
The Grand Canyon Trust responded that the tribe has long been a champion of the monument, and with good reason.
“The tribe has been working to stop uranium mining around the Grand Canyon long before environmental groups got involved,” said Amber Raymond, the trust’s energy program director. “The tribes themselves have experienced the negative effects of uranium mining.
Raymond and Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon program manager, Alisyn Gitlin, disputed the company’s claim that the body of water that rises into the Grand Canyon poses no threat. The lack of information on existing contamination is due to a lack of sampling wells and federal funding for monitoring, they said. The south side of the Grand Canyon is split in geology, so it’s hard to know where to look.
“We really don’t know how the water will move under the mines (in Plain de Pinyon),” said Guitlin, who helped coordinate Saturday’s event. “We are here because the tribe is afraid of water sources.”
Hopi and Tewa Musician and activist Ed Cabote Hosted the first of several events organized by his band, Ta Yotieswill perform across the country before opening at the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum in Washington in October. He shared the stage with a Hopi dance troupe and screened three of his films about the connection between the Valley and the Indigenous Peoples. The tour, called “Howlin’ for the Homelands,” is intended to help with the designation of the monument, but Caboti said it would be best if it turned into a celebration after this week. Told.
“Establishing a memorial is very important for the nation,” he said. “It protects lands, it protects medicines. As a co-managed monument, it honors our heritage.”
He said the new monument would not immediately solve the problems created by more than 100 years of forced evictions and land misuse from the national parks, and said hundreds of uranium mining sites on Navajo land had been destroyed. still awaiting cleanup. He wants a new vision of land management that will guide not only the mind but also the heart, leaving the extractive industries to support the economies of other regions.
“We cry out for Indigenous peoples and land on the Colorado Plateau,” said Caboti. “All water is interconnected, so all problems are interconnected.”
The message resonated with tourists who gathered to see and hear on Saturday. Ruth Garcia, who is on the road with her family from North Lauderdale, Fla., said she was grateful to expose her children, ages 8 and 9, to singing, dancing and movies. .
“I got to know how different tribes see the Grand Canyon and how they feel,” Garcia said. “It should be protected as much as possible. If that’s what this monument means, I definitely support it.”
Debra Utasia Kroll of the Republic contributed reporting.
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