Over the past week, tribal leaders and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva have asked President Obama to bypass Congress and name the 1.7 million acres around the Grand Canyon as a national monument.
Grijalva, a Democrat, is asking for Obama to call on the Antiquities Act, an act passed in February that will create national monuments on 1.8 million acres of Californian land. He believes that if he created a bill to make a monument, it would not be taken seriously from the Republican House.
The proposed bill, the Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act, is set to protect 1.7 million acres, while banning mining and other extractions of natural resources.
It would also permanently prohibit uranium mining, an initiative that was imposed by the Interior Department 20 years ago.
Grijalava and the other tribal leaders believe these actions have the potential to threaten and decimate the native peoples who live around the canyon.
Havasupai Tribe Councilwoman Carletta Tilousi feels passionately that this act is crucial to save her people.
“We are nearing extinction,” Tilousi said to Arizona Capital Times. “We want my people to remain left alone from international mining companies.”
She also does not believe the money brought in by mining would not help her tribe in any way.
There were also representatives at the April 26 event from the Hopi, Navajo, and Hualapai tribes.
They all believe the only option is for President Obama to use executive action to protect the Canyon as the benefits most certainly do not outweigh the risks.
The Grand Canyon is a popular tourist destination and is home to many Native American tribes. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, the Grand Canyon averages 10 miles wide from rim to rim.