A recent op-ed I helped write in collaboration with the Hopi Tribes Office of the Chairman and Congressional Representative Grijalva.
By Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Herman Honanie
The Hopi tribe considers the Grand Canyon a place of origin, a spiritual home and sanctuary of cultural tradition. The tribe’s history and culture cannot be separated from it. For generations the entire community has considered the Canyon hallowed ground. Few issues unite the tribe like the continued preservation of the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area, and that’s why today the Hopi strongly support the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. President Obama should use his power under the Antiquities Act to establish this monument and protect this sensitive land while there’s still time.
Hopi ancestors left behind abundant and tangible proof of their existence here. These footprints of Hopi history include ancient villages, migration routes, artifacts, petroglyphs and the physical remains of buried ancestors. These are remembered and maintained through oral tradition, pilgrimage, song and prayer. Among the many other values a well-preserved Grand Canyon provides the people of this nation and our entire planet, these culturally important places must be protected to ensure Hopi people can continue to interact with their ancestral past. This interaction forms a living connection between Hopi people, their ancestors and the Grand Canyon itself, which is just as important today as it has ever been.
This connection continually reminds Hopi of the responsibility to preserve essential qualities of life: clean air and water, unspoiled wilderness — and the peace of mind that comes with knowing future generations will enjoy these same gifts. The Hopi tribe is aware these qualities are under continued ecological threat from uranium mining, unregulated development, loss of old-growth forests and the degradation of watershed areas. The Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument will end those threats and protect one of the world’s greatest unspoiled natural areas once and for all.
When the balance of nature is disrupted, especially by something as dramatic as the construction of a mine or the diversion of a river, the landscape cannot simply be put back together as it once was. Such impacts negatively affect not only the natural and cultural values of the Grand Canyon region, but the spiritual values that are at the heart of Hopi tradition.
That’s why Chairman Honanie hand-delivered a letter to President Obama in April urging him to establish the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument before he leaves office. It applauded his efforts to recognize and preserve culturally important Native American sites around the country and asked him to “afford the Hopi, and all other Tribal Nations that hold the Grand Canyon as sacred, the same respect and dignity by bestowing Monument status on the Grand Canyon watershed.”
The Hopi tribe is firmly committed to working with presidential staff, congressional representatives, federal, state and local agencies in the development of this monument. In doing so, the tribe will rely on its traditional values of humility, cooperation, dedication and mutual respect. These values are the foundation of its unified call for the protection and preservation of lands that remain as important to the Hopi cultural landscape today as they have been for centuries.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Herman Honanie is the chairman of the Hopi tribe.