Carletta Tilousi is a member of the Havasupai tribal council.
The Havasupai – “people of the blue-green waters” – live in Supai Village, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Today our lives and water are being threatened by international uranium mining companies because the US government and its 1872 mining law permit uranium mining on federal lands that surround the Grand Canyon.
In 1986, the Kaibab national forest authorized a Canadian-based uranium company to open Canyon mine, a uranium mine near the south rim of Grand Canyon national park. The Havasupai tribe challenged the decision but lost in the ninth circuit court of appeals. Miners were just starting to drill Canyon mine’s shaft in 1991 when falling uranium prices caused the company to shut it down for more than two decades.
Havasupai ancestors share stories of the sacredness of the Grand Canyon and all the mountains that surround it. They have instructed us to protect the waters and the mountains from any environmental contamination. That’s why we stand firm against any uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region.
As uranium prices began to rise again in 2007, the uranium company reopened three closed mines on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, north of the Grand Canyon. More than 10,000 new claims were also filed on those public lands and US Forest Service-administered lands on the south side, above where we live.
In 2009, the Havasupai gathered together hundreds of supporters at Red Butte to oppose the reopening of the nearby Canyon mine. Red Butte is the sacred lungs of our Grandmother Canyon. It is also important to many neighboring tribes. We joined in prayer and ceremony to stop the desecration.
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