They argue that potential economic gains from uranium mining are more important than Indigenous interests
Arizona Republicans are challenging the creation of a new national monument near the Grand Canyon that would protect the land from uranium mining and give Native Americans a say in how the land is managed.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma said that President Joe Biden did not have the power to create the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, and that its creation harms the state as well as several communities within it. They’re asking the court to declare the creation of the monument unlawful and to set aside its designation as a monument.
Biden issued a proclamation designating the monument — which spans more than 900,000 acres that surround the Grand Canyon in Mohave and Coconino counties — in August 2023.
The creation of the monument garnered wide support, from the Native tribes who regard the land around the Grand Canyon as sacred, to lawmakers like U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, Reps. Ruben Gallego and Raul Grijalva, to Coconino County and the city of Flagstaff.
But in the suit, Republicans Petersen and Toma are joined by Republican State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Mohave County, Colorado City and the town of Fredonia in alleging that the monument should lose its designation. They argued that the Antiquities Act, which Biden used to create the monument, does not give him the power to do so.
Since a spike in uranium prices in the early 2000s led to surging interest in mining in the Grand Canyon area, lawmakers in the U.S. Congress made multiple attempts to ban uranium mining in the area, but none were successful.