Today, on May 20, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland visited the area that the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition has proposed for designation as the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. The proposed boundaries of the National Monument include 1,102,501 acres adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park. In response, Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement:
“We applaud Secretary Haaland for visiting the ancestral lands of the Grand Canyon. The Designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument has received widespread support from tribes, environmental groups, hunters and anglers, and community leaders. Protecting these lands, which hold a spiritual connection for tribes, would also protect its biological, scientific, and watershed significance for future generations.
More than 3,000 native archeological sites have been documented in the region. These lands hold a deep spiritual connection for at least 11 tribes. The area is also part of an important watershed for the Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million Americans. Protecting the watershed would provide much-needed hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and recreation opportunities for nearby communities, especially for Latinos and other communities of color who continue to face the Nature Gap, lacking the benefits that nearby nature brings.
Currently, less than eight percent of national historic landmarks represent the stories of Native Americans, African Americans, American Latinos, Asian Americans, women and other underrepresented groups. Designating the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument would make sure we are moving towards placing an importance in community-led efforts and celebrating the diverse cultures and contributions of all Americans.”
On April 11, ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva and Senator Kyrsten Sinema supported the Tribal Coalition to call on President Biden to use his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. Recently, President Biden designated the Castner Range National Monument and Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. Adding the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument would continue his progress toward protecting more historically significant sites.