The Statue of Liberty in New York. The Lava Beds of California. The United States is full of great sights! Both those spots are national monuments. And on August 8, 2023, a new monument joined the group. It’s called the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, or Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.
The new monument’s name honors two native groups. Both groups live around the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Baaj Nwaavjo means “where peoples roam” in the language of the Havasupai people. The other native group is the Hopi. In the Hopi language, I’tah Kukveni means “our footprints.”
The Grand Canyon became a monument in 1903. It was named a national park in 1919. However, the new national monument will protections in the north and south of the canyon. This will include areas important to native tribes. One of those areas is the Kaibab National Forest. About 1,562 square miles (4,046 sq. km) of land in total will be protected. That’s five times the size of New York City. Companies won’t be able to mine in the area. Native leaders had worried that mining would harm waterways.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed the for the monument in Arizona on August 8. Biden visited the area. He met with lawmakers and tribal leaders. Red Butte, a mountain that is holy to the Havasupai people, stood tall in the background. Maya Tilousi-Lyttle, a youth leader and spokesperson for the Havasupai and Hopi peoples, spoke about the importance of the monument.
Tilousi-Lyttle said that the monument would “protect our ancestral lands.” She added, “This is our home.”
After that, it was Biden’s turn to speak. “More than a dozen tribal nations have lived, gathered, and prayed on these lands,” he said. The president added that this was “the right thing to do.”
Updated August 9, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Tyler Burdick