Biden Announces New National Monument on Havasu 'Baaja Land

Almost 1 million acres of land near the Grand Canyon will now be protected from mining and extraction as part of the country’s newest national monument.

2 minute read

August 10, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of Havasu Falls with bright turquoise water and a canyon winding through red vertical cliffs in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon's Havasu Falls is on Havasupai tribal lands. | ronnybas / Adobe Stock

The rumored new national monument near the Grand Canyon was made a reality by President Biden on Tuesday, reports Debra Utacia Krol in Arizona Republic. The new monument encompasses lands sacred to the local Havasu 'Baaja tribe and will be called Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.

“These are places of prayer for the Havasupai, who have long fought to regain some control over the places and to protect them from overuse and mineral extraction,” Krol adds. Yet the group has long been barred from stewarding the land. “The lands they once held and cared for were open to anybody, including mineral hunters and recreationists. Several mineral claims were established, as were campgrounds, forest roads and visitor infrastructure.”

Since the U.S. government first appropriated the land, the tribe continued to fight for its protection, advocating for a national monument that would prevent future mining operations. “Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, said during a press call Monday that the new Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument would rectify an injustice committed against Native peoples in the area.”

Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni is President Biden’s fifth national monument, joining the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Illinois and Mississippi, the Castner Range National Monument in Texas, Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada, and the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado.

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