Leadership from the Colorado River Indian Tribes were part of the official designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument on Tuesday.
CRIT Chairwoman Amelia Flores was among a group of tribal leaders standing beside President Joe Biden as he signed the order to protect over 1 million acres of ancestral homelands and water sources that flow into the Colorado River. Biden said that by preserving the land for activities like hiking, biking and camping, the monument will also grow the area’s tourism economy.
“Preserving these lands is good not only for Arizona, but for the planet,” Biden said. “It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the soul of the nation, and I believe with my core, to my core, it’s the right thing to do.”
CRIT Vice Chair Dwight Lomayesva and CRIT Treasurer Josephine Tahbo also attended the ceremony held at Red Butte, about 20 miles south of the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, which includes CRIT, has been working to safeguard Grand Canyon homelands.
“The Colorado River Indian Tribes has a timeless religious and deep economic connection to the Colorado River, which is inextricably connected to the lands of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument,” Chairwoman Flores said. “We thank President Biden and his administration for taking this vital step forward to protect the health of the Colorado River, the surrounding lands, and the irreplaceable cultural resources. This designation honors the tribal connections to the surrounding lands and the value of tribal stewardship in protecting the waters that flow through the Grand Canyon down to our reservation.”
Following the ceremony, Chairwoman Flores, and Vice Chairman Lomayesva, attended a round table meeting with Governor Hobbs to discuss the state’s response to the ongoing sober living/ behavior health fraud crisis which had been victimizing tribal members across Arizona.
Last Wednesday, U.S. Senator for Arizona Kyrsten Sinema paid a visit to CRIT Tribal Council Chambers in Parker for a round table discussion that included issues like broadband internet access, water rights and conservation. Sinema told the Council she would fight for CRIT’s priority as a user of the Colorado River and that she would look into assertions by Councilman Bobby Page that the Tribes are not being fairly compensated for fallowing land.