Congress Considers 2 Bills That Would Ban Mining Near Grand Canyon, Chaco

By Laurel Morales
Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - 12:57pm
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 3:25pm

Leaders from northern Arizona and northern New Mexico spoke out at a congressional hearing Wednesday about the extraction industry’s impacts to the Grand Canyon and Chaco Canyon regions.

Lawmakers are considering two bills: one would ban mining on land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park, the other on land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Grand Canyon is rich is uranium, while Chaco sits on an oil field.

Navajo, Pueblo and other tribal leaders support the legislation to protect the water, air and culture. But Delora Jesus, and about a hundred others who received money in exchange for their consent to drill for oil on their land, are opposed to the Chaco Canyon bill.

“It pains me to see my own leaders both tribal and in Congress are supporting a bill that would put my oil and natural gas rights off limits and prevent my family from receiving income from a valuable energy resource that we own,” Jesus said.

Navajo Chapter Counselor Samuel Sage said it’s an issue that’s divided families and communities.

Many tribes in the Southwest can trace their ancestry and culture to Chaco. Navajo Vice President Myron Lizer said Chaco Canyon is sacred and should be protected for future generations.