Havasupai Leaders Say Grand Canyon Uranium Ban Critical to Tribe’s Future

Jun 6, 2017

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is calling for the repeal of a ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the Havasupai Tribe has condemned the board’s actions.

The now-inactive Kanab North Mine is located near Kanab Creek on the Grand Canyon's North Rim. The creek flows into the Colorado River near the Havasupai Reservation.
Credit Robin Silver

The Mohave County supervisors say the moratorium is illegal and has hurt the local economy. They’ve sent letters to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calling for it to be overturned. But the Havasupai Tribe is worried that would lead to a rapid increase in uranium production.

Havasupai Councilwoman Carletta Tilousi says the ban is crucial to the tribe.

"It’s not about economy to us. It’s about human life and human survival. And to protect to protect the waters of the Colorado River so that all citizens in the state of Arizona can drink clean water—not contaminated water, but clean water," she says.

The mining ban applies to a million acres in Coconino and Mohave counties surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The leaders of several tribal nations fear lifting the ban would cause widespread pollution and negative health effects.

The Mohave Supervisors’ proposal also calls for overturning several national monument designations in the state, also linking them to job creation and increased economic development.