August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Havasupai Urge Halt to Uranium Mining in Grand Canyon as Bill Moves through U.S. Senate


Three generations of Havasupai members demonstrate against uranium extraction outside the Grand Canyon mine site. Photograph: Courtesy of the Grand Canyon Trust.


Havasupai Urge Halt to Uranium Mining in Grand Canyon as Bill Moves through U.S. Senate

United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Votes 10-10 Along Party Lines; Bill Should Move to Full Senate

The Pinyon Plain Mine, previously known as Canyon Mine is located at Maŧ Ŧivjudvah and sits directly above the largest aquifer that feeds into Havasu Creek, the main source of drinking water for Havasupai and metropolitan cities downstream. Contamination from the Pinyon Plain Mine has already contaminated millions of gallons of precious water to be unusable and wasted.

By Havasupai Nation
Contact: Abbie S. Fink
afink@hmapr.com/
French translation by Christine Prat
July 21, 2022

HAVASUPAI NATION, Supai, Arizona -- The United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 10 to 10 on Senate Bill 387 during today’s committee meeting. Not surprisingly, the 20 Senators voted along party lines, leaving the decision to Senate leadership to determine the fate of the bill.

Arizona Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz) has championed Senate Bill 387 in order to “protect, for current and future generations, the watershed, ecosystem, and cultural heritage of the Grand Canyon region in the State of Arizona.”

He, along with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) and other senators, have shown their unwavering support of this simple and straightforward law that would prevent new uranium mines from being built on lands currently managed by the Federal Forest Service national forests. It would not affect private or state lands.

As longtime residents of the Grand Canyon, the Havasupai Tribe, it’s leaders and elders have fought uranium mining for decades, gaining allies along the way, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to protect the Grand Canyon, Havasu Creek, its main water source, the Tribe’s cultural identity and its existence as the Havasupai People.

According to Chairman Thomas Siyuja, Sr., “The Havasupai Tribe knows the irreparable damage that uranium mining can do. For generations, we have been at the forefront of working to permanently protect our ancient homelands from uranium mining, which has disproportionately harmed and sickened indigenous people across Northern Arizona."

"The Grand Canyon Protection Act will once and for all permanently ban any new uranium mines on our ancestral lands.”

Because the bill did not receive a simple majority, democratic leaders in the Senate must now decide whether to send the bill to the full Senate or let it die in committee.

“We are grateful to the 10 Democratic Senators that voted in favor of this bill and their commitment to doing what is needed to protect the Grand Canyon and its natural resources, but more importantly, the waters in our canyon home.” said Tribal Council Member Stuart L.T. Chavez.

“It is our lawmakers who can permanently stop uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region. Senator Schumer must send the bill to the entire Senate to continue this important discussion which we are hopeful will ultimately lead to the passage of Senate Bill 387.”

Children join the conference to stop uranium mining on sacred Havasupai land at the Grand Canyon. Earthcycles and Censored News were honored to broadcast live at the gathering in 2009. Photo by Brenda Norrell.

The Havasupai Tribe, Havasuw ‘Baaja People of the Blue-Green Water’s home has been in the Grand Canyon for thousands of years. Havasupai lands and aboriginal territories, are all under threat of contamination from uranium mining.

The Havasuw ‘Baaja have lived along the blue-green waters of Havasu Creek, its waterfalls since time immemorial. As Guardians of the Grand Canyon the Tribe has led the fight to permanently protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining for many years.

“We wholeheartedly believe the enactment of this important and necessary legislation is absolutely essential to protect and secure the future of the Havasupai people, now and for generations to come,” said Chairman Siyuja.

Thousands of uranium claims have been filed all around the Grand Canyon over the past 40 years. Energy Fuels Nuclear currently operates a uranium mine on the Havasupai Tribe’s Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) located the south rim of the Grand Canyon, three miles from Red Butte - - Wii Qdwiisa, the Tribe’s most sacred mountain and the center of the Havasupai people’s creation story.

The Pinyon Plain Mine, previously known as Canyon Mine is located at Maŧ Ŧivjudvah and sits directly above the largest aquifer that feeds into Havasu Creek, the main source of drinking water for the Tribe and metropolitan cities downstream.

According to Councilman Chavez, “Contamination from the Pinyon Plain Mine has already contaminated millions of gallons of precious water to be unusable and wasted.

“Every day the Pinyon Plain Mine continues to threaten Havasu Creek from contamination, the main drinking water source that provides life to Supai Village. Without the reassurance and protection of our water, our home, the environment, elements and human lives will be destroyed forever. "

"It is everyone’s responsibility to lobby lawmakers who can make the right policy decisions, to stop uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region and to continue to support the Havasupai Tribe. We will continue the fight not only for our people, our future generations and millions of Americans who depend on the waters from Havasu Creek and the Colorado River”.

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