Arizona Representative Paul Gosar added to the Interior Appropriations Bill an Amendment that would prohibit using Interior Department funds to implement, administer, or enforce the Presidential Proclamation that established the Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.
The proclamation was made by President Biden in August 2023 to protect over 900,000 acres of BLM and Forest Service land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining claims. The land protected from these claims is culturally significant to the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
There are several hundred uranium mining claims in the region, almost exclusively owned by foreign owned companies (so contrary to Gosar’s rhetoric, even if the claims were opened it wouldn’t spur “local” economic development or enhance national security). Unfortunately for the tribes in the region their Reps in Congress are a right-wing block who don’t give much consideration to tribal heritage or preserving the natural environment, to put it mildly.
The area covered by the Monument’s protections that Gosar wants to strip away are partially represented by Gosar in AZ-09, but most are inside Eli Crane’s AZ-02 congressional district. The two men are radically pro-uranium mining, and both choose to ignore the toxic legacy of over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the nearby Navajo Nation, which has resulted in deadly consequences for the residents of communities that are adjacent to the abandoned mines.
While right-wing Arizona Representatives Paul Gosar and Eli Crane’s vision of the future is the continued sacrifice of indigenous communities, tribal sovereignty, and people’s health and livelihoods for the production of uranium to enrich foreign owned companies, there is no representation in the Arizona delegation of Native or indigenous voices. There never has been. There has also never been a Navajo Nation member of Congress.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument is located mostly within Arizona’s 2nd congressional district, which is also home to most of the abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.
AZ-02 is a single digit red-leaning district (Trump +7.9) and former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is challenging freshman ultra-MAGA Congressman Eli Crane for that congressional seat.
If ever there was a time and a place to assert that representation matters, that silenced voices should be heard and listened to, that recognizing tribal rights is more than just lip service, that sacred sites should not be sacrificed to the forces of greed, that families shouldn't suffer cancers and birth defects because they live on the wrong parcel of land, this is that place and time.
The Democratic candidate, Jonathan Nez, has been a champion of restoring health and justice to the impacted communities. You can view and read some of his testimony to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) here from when he served as Navajo Nation President. One excerpt pulled from Nez’s testimony underscores the need for this area to have representation from indigenous residents, and not right-wing white Congressmen who continue the legacy of conquest, extraction, and exploitation.
As Nez stated:
these nearby Navajo communities are environmental justice communities, which historically had little or no say in the exploitation of the natural resources around them and certainly do not benefit from the vast profit by the company’s governance and shareholders.
One way to help ensure that Native communities in this area do not continue to be ignored is to put one in Congress. Replacing Eli Crane with Jonathan Nez. With Nez in Congress, even if Paul Gosar does get re-elected (which unfortunately is very likely given his deep red district), instead of having a rubber stamp like Eli Crane next door, he’ll border the district of Congressman Jonathan Nez instead, and Gosar’s zeal for uranium mining on sacred tribal lands would then be met with some sprited resistance.
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