Biden creates new national monument near Grand Canyon, citing tribal heritage, climate concerns

by Chloe Baker
Monument establishment

President Joe Biden has established a new national monument near the Grand Canyon, citing its significance to tribal heritage and concerns about climate change. The designation, signed during his Western trip, fulfills the long-held aspirations of Native American tribes and environmental activists. Covering approximately 1,562 square miles (4,046 square kilometers) north and south of the Grand Canyon National Park, the monument includes canyons, plateaus, and tributaries that sustain various plant and animal species. This marks the fifth monument designation under Biden’s administration.

Tribal communities in Arizona had urged the President to use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish the monument, named Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, meaning “where tribes roam” for the Havasupai tribe and “our footprints” for the Hopi tribe. Biden framed the designation as not just beneficial for Arizona but also for the global environment and economy.

Biden linked the move to his administration’s broader efforts against climate change, emphasizing the severe heatwaves experienced during the summer, particularly in places like Phoenix. He criticized those who oppose green energy and federal environmental safeguards, indirectly referring to the “Make America Great Again” movement associated with former President Donald Trump.

By designating this area, Biden aimed to honor treaty obligations to Native American tribes that were displaced from their ancestral lands during the creation of the national park. The move holds political significance due to Arizona’s status as a closely contested state that Biden narrowly won in the previous election.

The event featured tribal representatives and dignitaries, reflecting the importance of preserving cultural heritage. Though opposed by some Republicans and the uranium mining industry for economic reasons, the Interior Department had already established a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims around the Grand Canyon National Park in 2012. The monument area encompasses only a small portion of the nation’s uranium reserves, leaving significant resources accessible elsewhere.

This action builds upon former President Barack Obama’s partial proposal for a monument in the area and reflects changing dynamics in Arizona’s political landscape. Key figures such as Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, and independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema endorsed the monument establishment.

Biden’s trip will proceed to New Mexico and Utah, with subsequent stops focusing on climate change and veterans’ benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Monument establishment

What did President Biden do near the Grand Canyon?

President Biden signed a national monument designation near the Grand Canyon, preserving an area significant for tribal heritage and addressing climate concerns.

What area does the new monument cover?

The monument encompasses about 1,562 square miles north and south of the Grand Canyon National Park, including canyons, plateaus, and wildlife habitats.

Why did Native American tribes support this monument?

Tribes advocated for the monument to honor their heritage and maintain cultural sites. The designation reflects their historical connection to the land.

How does this relate to climate change?

President Biden linked the monument to his administration’s efforts against climate change, citing extreme heatwaves and the need to address environmental challenges.

What is the significance of the monument’s name, Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni?

The name signifies “where tribes roam” for the Havasupai tribe and “our footprints” for the Hopi tribe, underscoring tribal identity and connection to the land.

How does this monument affect Arizona’s politics?

Given Arizona’s pivotal role as a battleground state, the monument holds political significance, impacting discussions about environmental policies and cultural heritage preservation.

Who opposed the monument designation?

Some Republican lawmakers and the uranium mining industry opposed the designation due to economic reasons, arguing it could impact mining activities and national security concerns.

How did the tribes and Biden address historical mistreatment?

The monument signifies the federal government’s commitment to honoring treaty obligations with Native American tribes, addressing past displacements from the Grand Canyon area.

Are there concerns about the environment and wildlife?

Yes, the monument’s creation aims to protect and sustain diverse plant and animal species in the region, such as bison, elk, desert bighorn sheep, and rare cacti.

What future plans does President Biden have after this monument designation?

Following this action, President Biden’s Western trip continues, focusing on climate change initiatives and veterans’ benefits in New Mexico and Utah.

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NatureLover123 August 9, 2023 - 6:15 am

this new monument, omg! i luv how it keeps the animals safe, plants too. biden’s onto somethin’ real good.

JohnDoe August 9, 2023 - 8:39 am

wow biden makin’ monument near grand canyon, sayin’ it’s for tribes, climate n stuff. like about time?

HistoryBuff55 August 9, 2023 - 3:06 pm

tribes gettin’ recognition, finally! biden talkin’ bout treaties, past wrongs, makin’ sense. monuments for heritage rock!

ArizonaVoter August 9, 2023 - 3:35 pm

here we go again, biden showin’ up in arizona, tryna grab votes with monuments. but grand canyon’s a gem, i guess.


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