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Tribal Leaders Back Bill That Would Create Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument

Blake McCord/Courtesy of the Grand Canyon Trust

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva plans to introduce a bill that would establish a Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. At a press conference yesterday, he was joined by tribal leaders who say it would protect cultural resources and outlaw uranium mining in the area. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

More than half the land proposed for the 1.7-million-acre monument is temporarily off limits to new uranium mining claims. Representatives of the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes say the ban should be permanent in the Grand Canyon area.

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez says past uranium mining has caused high rates of cancer in some areas of the Navajo Nation.

“We stand firm in saying ‘No, no, no.’ No more uranium. We have suffered a long history of uranium health effects throughout Navajo,” Nez says.

Nez also says designating the area surrounding the Grand Canyon as a monument would protect sacred sites as well as water and cultural resources.

Many Republicans and the mining industry are fighting the proposal. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has also voiced its opposition. The agency says a national monument would be unnecessary and add regulatory burden to wildlife and recreation management.

Congressman Raul Grijalva says if his bill fails in Congress, he’ll lobby President Obama to declare the national monument by using presidential authority given under the Antiquities Act.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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