Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today celebrated news that President Joe Biden will use his authorities under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate public lands in the Grand Canyon region as the new Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. The designation is the result of a decades-long effort by the tribes of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, with the support of environmental and recreational organizations, local communities, and elected officials. 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.”
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of the tribes—the original guardians and stewards of the Grand Canyon—we are witnessing the culmination of a monumental journey,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “Designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument is a remarkable triumph and a testament to the unwavering dedication of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, local communities, and other allies. Together with the Biden-Harris administration, we’re ensuring the protection of the region’s vast and rich natural resources, safeguarding cultural heritage, and preserving the incredible beauty of this iconic landscape for generations to come.
“First and foremost, I want to extend my sincerest and most heartfelt gratitude to the tribes who have stood firm in their quest to make the Grand Canyon a beacon of conservation and cultural preservation, no matter the obstacle or threat. Standing alongside them on this journey has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I also want to thank President Biden, Secretary Haaland, Secretary Vilsack, and CEQ Chair Mallory for their support and commitment to listening to tribes and preserving our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural treasures for good. The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument would not be possible without their vision and leadership.”
The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition consists of leadership representatives of 13 tribes, including 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.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will include 917,618 acres of public lands adjacent to and around Grand Canyon National Park. No state or private lands will be included in the monument.
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 will honor tribes’ deep cultural ties to the region, protect unique ecosystems and a vital watershed for the Colorado River, which supplies water to over 40 million Americans, and enhance the many resources of the area. In addition, the designation will permanently protect 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 will respect existing grazing permits and preserve hunting and fishing access.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will include significant sacred sites, including Red Butte, along with significant cultural and archaeological resources, natural springs, and historic landmarks that hold immense importance for tribes whose homelands are located here. These lands are not only rich in natural wonders but have held deep significance for several tribes since time immemorial, underscoring the need to preserve and honor their sacred heritage.
Background and History
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will include the homelands of at least 11 Indigenous Tribes, Nations, and Tribal Associates, many of which are represented in the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition. 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).