PRESS RELEASE: Indigenous Peoples Caucus celebrates new Northern Arizona monument
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2023
GRAND CANYON-- Members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus praised President Joe Biden's long-awaited designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona. The new national monument will protect nearly 1 million acres north of the Grand Canyon including sacred Indigenous ancestral places, from uranium mining. The designation will also conserve public lands for future generations and protect wildlife and clean water sources. IPC Chairwoman Mae Peshlakai of Cameron, Rep. Myron Tsosie of Chinle and Theresa Hatathlie of Coal Mine Mesa, attended today's event where President Biden officially designated the monument.
"We as Indigenous people have always been connected to Mother Earth, Father Sky, Mother Water and the Sacred Air – we are never separate from it. So, it's about time we are making the country aware that we are faced with crises and contamination from the uranium," said Chairwoman Peshlakai. "We need to protect the sacred elements. We're just happy for the Indigenous people surrounding the Grand Canyon, but for all other people as well, all walks of life, animals, plants. Those are sacred beings themselves. We are now here to protect them. We're so happy the President came out and made it a monument, and we're thankful to all the people who worked so hard, for so long, to make it happen. This is for all people to enjoy the serenity of the Canyon."
Rep. Tsosie said it was a highly emotional experience witnessing the monument's designation, especially after setbacks under the Trump Administration to protect Oak Flat in Arizona and Bears Ears in Utah.
"This sends a message about how the Biden Administration is taking into account sacred lands, sacred sites, our culture and our history so it can pass on to the next generation," Rep. Tsosie said. "Not just here but across the country. This administration, under the Antiquities Act, is using their power to finally give Indigenous voices a place at the table in the White House."