Red Butte Airfield, Ariz. – This afternoon, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) delivered remarks at President Biden’s designation of nearly 1 million acres as the new Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in the Red Butte Airfield in Arizona. CLICK HERE for Ranking Member Grijalva’s earlier statement on the announcement of the new national monument.
Transcript of Ranking Member Grijalva’s Remarks
Thank you very much. You know, in trying to figure out what to say on this unique day, it was very difficult. Because this is not something that is a snapshot, that just happened overnight.
It has been a consistent, devoted, and difficult struggle and path.
To have this monument proclamation today by President Biden—and how thankful and appreciative we are of this president for this action—it has taken a struggle. And no one knows that struggle better than the Indigenous people that have never forgotten that struggle.
And the Tribal Coalition—their leadership—has taught all of us a very, very valuable lesson.
I met a Navajo, Hopi, young lady, fire fighter when we were waiting at the tarmac for President Biden to arrive and greet him. And she came over and thanked me and I said no, no, no, this is really important for your people. To realize the fact that the footprint is closer and closer and closer to being permanent.
That the ancestral lands are not forgotten fantasies—that reality’s right across us. And that the role of Indigenous peoples and the tribes will be of significance—not window dressing.
And I said, so it’s a great day for you. And she answered, it’s a great day for all people. And she’s right.
Today is about the identity of this nation of ours. Today is about respect to the first of our species that touched this place and these lands.
And today is a day of remembrance. That this struggle is not new and those before us that continue to fight, advocate, and struggle for the protection of these sacred lands are remembered. Thank you very much.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument includes 917,618 acres of public lands adjacent to and around Grand Canyon National Park. No state or private lands are included in the monument. The monument draws its name from the Havasupai word “baaj nwaavjo,” meaning “where Indigenous peoples roam”, and the Hopi word “i’tah kukveni,” meaning “our ancestral footprints.”
This national monument designation reflects the profound cultural, ecological, recreational, and scientific value of the Grand Canyon—one of the world’s most prized landscapes. The monument honors tribes’ deep cultural ties to the region, protects unique ecosystems and a vital watershed for the Colorado River, which supplies water to over 40 million Americans, and enhances the many resources of the area. In addition, the designation permanently protects the area from destructive activities like uranium mining, which has already left a toxic legacy of health, safety, and environmental damage to tribes and other local communities in northern Arizona. The national monument respects existing grazing permits and preserves hunting and fishing access.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument includes significant sacred sites, including Red Butte, along with significant cultural and archaeological resources, natural springs, and historic landmarks that hold immense importance for multiple tribes.
Background and History
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument includes the homelands of at least 11 Indigenous Tribes, Nations, and Tribal Associates, many of which are represented in the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition. The Coalition consists of leadership representatives of the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Paiute Tribe, Las Vegas Band of Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Shivwits Band of Paiutes, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
For years, the tribes have called for the permanent protection of these lands with a national monument designation.On April 11, 2023, the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, joined by Ranking Member Grijalva, re-launched their effort, calling on President Biden to designate the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. After accepting an invitation from Ranking Member Grijalva, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland visited the Grand Canyon region in May to engage with members of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, stakeholders, and federal agency officials to discuss the importance of the national monument proposal.
On July 18, DOI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a listening session in Flagstaff, AZ, to obtain community input on the national monument proposal.
Throughout Ranking Member Grijalva’s tenure in Congress, he has been proud to be a foremost champion of the tribes’ efforts to protect the Grand Canyon region. CLICK HERE for a timeline of past legislative efforts (also shown below).