The Sentinel

Mining and Monuments: A Conversation about Tribal Lands
Published on: 10/1/2023

Mining and Monuments: A Conversation about Tribal Lands

On August 8, 2023, President Biden took a significant step by designating Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni in Northern Arizona as a national monument. The name is a combination of the Havasupai “Baaj Nwaavjo,” meaning where Indigenous people roam, and the Hopi phrase “I’tah Kukveni,” meaning our ancestral footprints. This designation, located near the Grand Canyon, serves as a protective shield against future uranium mining in the region.

This land is sacred to over a dozen Tribal Nations, and Indigenous groups have been working to safeguard it since the 1980s. The new monument protects approximately 900,000 acres and solidifies the 20-year ban on mining that President Obama initially put in place in 2012.

These and other recent efforts by the Biden Administration to protect lands from future mining prompted us to examine how NCAI’s historical advocacy has shaped current mining issues.