A new poll shows strong support for establishing a permanent ban on uranium mining on a million acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.
As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, tribes, environmental groups and elected officials are pushing for the ban to protect water and land.
The survey conducted by the Washington DC-based firm GQR shows broad bipartisan support for the protections.
Nearly 70% of the likely Arizona voters polled in June wanted to see a permanent ban on new uranium mining, with an overwhelming majority of Democrats in favor as well as nearly half of Republicans.
Conservationists and area tribes have fought mining near the Grand Canyon for decades and say it contaminates water resources and further endangers the Colorado River.
The Havasupai Tribe, which lives in the Grand Canyon, says it threatens sacred sites and their sole source of drinking water.
Carletta Tilousi is a former Havasupai councilmember and environmental justice advocate.
“We just want a clean water. We just want a clean place to live, and our small tribe, we just want to be left alone. We just want to live in peace and not be out there like this begging for our lives and begging for clean water.”
The Obama administration put a 20-year halt on new uranium mining claims on more than a million acres near the Grand Canyon in 2012.
Now, the U.S. Senate is considering the Grand Canyon Protection Act, which would make that ban permanent. The U.S. House has already passed the bill.
The mining industry contends that modern uranium extraction methods are safe and don’t pose a danger to the environment.
The California Indian Education Act was passed by state senators Wednesday, which encourages public schools to create a task force to share tribal history and culture – and develop classroom materials.
The measure, AB 1703, was introduced by Native American State Rep. James Ramos (D-CA).
Rep. Ramos says it’s critical to teach students about the diversity of California’s more than 100 tribes, which all have different languages, customs, culture, and history.
During a meeting with tribal leaders, Native educators, and students last year, Rep. Ramos talked about the importance of pushing legislation forward.
“Working together, as one body, working together in a coalition, we’re going to be able to make a change in the state of California. We have an opportunity as California Indian people. It starts with our elders, and those who have vision with education and teaching the people who we truly are as California Indian people.”
The measure was created after a classroom incident last year at a high school in Riverside, when a viral video showed a math teacher dancing, chanting, and wearing a faux headdress while teaching.
Rep. Ramos says tribal curriculum is needed to avoid more incidents like the one involving the Riverside teacher.
He stresses the importance for local educators to collaborate with tribes and materials that are created to be shared statewide.
The measure is supported by tribes, education associations and school districts.
It was approved on a bipartisan vote of 37-0, making the bill a step closer to the governor’s desk.
The Yurok Tribe in California is celebrating salmon and the reintroduction of the condor on Saturday during the annual Klamath Salmon Festival.
The tribe is also recognizing the pending removal of dams as part of river restoration efforts.
The festival includes music, traditional games, basket weaving demonstrations, a smoked salmon contest, and other events.
In May, the tribe and partners started the release of condors, which had been absent in the area for more than 100 years.
An energy company, along with states and federal regulators, are expected to sign off on the removal of four dams on the Klamath River.
The removal is expected to have a positive impact on the waters and fish.
More details on the event’s Facebook page.
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