On a sunlit day at the historic Red Butte Airfield, Cactus Shadows High School senior Maya Tilousi-Lyttle stood proudly as she introduced President Joe Biden to an eager crowd. The event marked the signing of the proclamation that established the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument on Aug. 8.
Maya, who belongs to both the Havasupai and Hopi tribes, encapsulated the significance of the occasion with a message of unity and reverence for ancestral lands. “Standing here represents the unity of the tribes to protect our ancestral lands,” she reflected. Her words resonated deeply with many who shared a bond with the majestic landscape of the Grand Canyon.
With memories of her childhood trips to Havasu Falls etched in her heart, May expressed a profound connection to the land, “I’ve grown up swimming at Havasu Falls where I learned a deep respect for our land and water.”
The president’s signing of the proclamation is a testament to the efforts of indigenous communities, environmentalists, and policymakers. The creation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument ensures that the footprints of the past will continue to guide and inspire future generations.