The proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument holds lands of great cultural and historic importance. The Clovis, Basketmaker and Puebloan peoples all made their homes in its vast space. More than 3,000 ancient Native American archaeological sites have been documented in the region, representing just a fraction of its human history. Ranging from settlements and habitations to temporary camps, granaries and caches, the sites and rock art date from as far back as the Paleo-Indian period — 11,000 BCE.
Today these lands are cherished by the Kaibab Paiute tribe, as well as the Navajo Nation and the Hopi, Zuni, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes.
Red Butte, located in the Kaibab National Forest, is an area of particular cultural and religious importance within the region. It is here that the ancient peoples made their homes and where many of the archeological sites are located. Five northern Arizona and New Mexico tribes worked with the Forest Service to secure a “traditional cultural property” designation for Red Butte to recognize its importance to tribal history and current cultural identity.
The tribes consider much of the Grand Canyon region part of their extensive traditional territories. The entire Kaibab Plateau, or Kai Awvahv (the “mountain lying down”), falls within the traditional territory of the Kaibab Paiute tribe. The Havasupai tribe believes that the Grand Canyon and the surrounding plateau, including the South Rim headwaters, and all the plants and animals in the region, were given to them to care for, and that these lands are sacred. Many springs within the Grand Canyon watershed remain important today not only as water sources but also for cultural identity.
Like Grand Canyon itself, the broader Grand Canyon watershed provides opportunities for outdoor experiences of all types– from hiking and wildlife viewing, to hunting and fishing, and traditional tribal access and uses.
The wild beauty of the watershed’s towering cliffs, deeply incised canyons and clear-flowing springs draw outdoor recreationists from around the world. It’s not just visitors who enjoy Arizona’s great outdoors, locals highly value recreation opportunities on their public lands. More than half of Arizonans participate in some kind of outdoor recreation.
Vital to these outdoor opportunities are protected public lands. Grand Canyon National Park, initially protected as a national monument, is now one of the most visited national parks in the country–and a major economic driver for Coconino County and other local communities. Likewise, economic studies have shown that communities adjacent to Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Canyon-Parashant national monuments also experienced economic benefits, including job growth and an increase in personal income, after the areas were designated.
Conserving public lands provides amenities that draw new residents, tourists, recreational users, and businesses. A report from the Small Business Majority has found that national monuments designated by President Obama have generated $156 million per year for local economies surrounding the monuments. The same potential boon for local communities exists in the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, which provides a myriad of opportunities for people to hike, bike, ride horses, camp, ski, hunt, fish, or otherwise experience the scenic beauty of the area.
An economic analysis by BBC Research and Consulting found that the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument could provide $51 million in economic benefits each year.