It was the first national monument to grow out of the thinking, study, support, and political power of Native American nations.
[On May 6, 1903, not a hundred feet from where I was standing at the canyon’s edge, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech that environmentalists—a word yet to be invented—would come to deem as important as Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It was a perfect match of subject and stage. In the open air on the canyon’s ledge, the president declaimed on the miracle of nature he was trying to save. The five words the speech is most remembered for would become synonymous with the Grand Canyon, and become a touchstone for protecting other wild landscapes.
“Leave it as it is,” Roosevelt told the crowd. “You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see….”]