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Apaches Get Rehearing In Fight To Preserve Oak Flat

Arizona - A federal appeals court will rehear Apache Stronghold’s case against the United States to save the sacred site of Oak Flat, a 6.7-square-mile stretch of land east of Phoenix that a private venture is seeking to turn into an underground copper mine. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced Thursday (Nov. 17) that it will rehear the case in front of a full 11-judge court instead of the original three-judge panel. Earlier this summer, the divided federal appeals court, in a 2-1 ruling, held that the government could proceed with the transfer of Oak Flat to Resolution Copper, a company owned by the British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. It ruled that Apache Stronghold, a nonprofit working to protect Oak Flat, failed to show a substantial burden on its religious exercise.

Mining Giant Rio Tinto Hit By Legal Battle Over Sacred Apache Site

The serene Oak Flat upland lies in the heart of Arizona. With its beautiful peaks and forest, it is a beloved spot for campers, hikers and rock climbers. Above all, it is the center of the San Carlos Apache tribe's religion, a place of devotion where their gods dwell and they still perform traditional ceremonies. But it is now at the center of a dispute between the tribe and FTSE 100 giant Rio Tinto. It is also shaping up to be an acid test of the mining group's claims that it is determined to respect sacred sites. Wendsler Nosie Sr of the Apache Stronghold – a coalition of Apaches and non-Apache supporters that is bringing the case – describes it as the 'most sacred site where we connect with our creator, our faith, our families and our land'. He says: 'It is a place of healing that has been sacred to us since long before Europeans arrived on this continent.'

Government Sells Native Sacred Land To Mining Company

By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. As if leaving Native Americans with nothing but miniscule plots of reservation land and systemic brokenness wasn’t enough, now the white man is at it again- robbing the Apache of a sacred ceremonial ground in Oak Flat, Arizona. The US government gave the Apache land to a foreign mining company, saying the native people could still use the grounds for traditional gatherings “after the land exchange has been completed, so long as it remains safe to do so.” The sacred land will unlikely be “safe” for ceremonies once it is functioning as a mine. John McCain and Jeff Flake, major proponents of the land theft, both received hefty contributions from the mining company, Rio Tinto.

Apaches Rally At Capitol, Fighting For Sacred Oak Flat

By Dayana Morales Gomez and Julian Brave NoiseCat in The Huffington Post - Apache protesters completed their cross-country journey from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona to Washington, D.C., with a Wednesday rally on the lawn of the Capitol building, protesting Congress’ sale of their sacred Oak Flat to foreign mining conglomerates. The area known as Oak Flat is part of Arizona's Tonto National Forest, and the Apache have used it for generations in young women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower removed it from consideration for mining activities in recognition of its natural and cultural value. But in December 2014, during the final days of the previous Congress, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) added a rider to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that opened the land to mining conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

Save Oak Flat Campaign Aided By Historic Preservation Label

By Gale Courey Toensing in Indian Country Today Media Network - Legislation to save an Apache sacred site from destruction by an international mining company got a helping hand recently when the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the land on its 2015 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Almost all of the places that make it onto the list are preserved. Rep. Raúl Grijalva(D-AZ) introduced the bipartisan Save Oak Flat Act,H.R. 2811, on June 17. Grijalva’s bill would repeal a section of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA) that authorizes approximately 2,422 acres of land known as Oak Flat in the Tonto National Forest in Southeastern Arizona to be transferred to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the giant international mining company Rio Tinto.

The Apache Stronghold Comes To Washington, DC

By Stephen Boyd in The Hill - The Apache are coming to Washington. They are coming to protect a public campground in Arizona known as Oak Flat, called in Apache, Chi’chil Bildagoteel. They come to repair the damage that was done back in December of the last Congress, when at the 11 ½ hour (literally, 11:30 at night before a vote the next day) a land exchange amendment was attached to a must pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which Congress enacted into law. This amendment (Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act) would give Oak Flat to two huge multi-national mining companies (Rio Tinto of the UK and BHP Billiton of Australia). The law has devastating effects on the Apache and, by extension, on all other Native tribes and nations in the country.

Apache Tribe Brings Battle For Oak Flat To Times Square

By Ellen Brait in The Guardian - Members of the Apache tribe stood chanting in a circle with drums and posters in the center of New York’s Times Square on Friday, to protest against a bill that will hand over land they hold sacred to a foreign mining corporation. Times Square was the latest stop for activists from the Apache tribe who are travelling across the United States to battle for Oak Flat and to draw attention to a bill introduced by Arizona representative Raúl M Grijalva to repeal the decision to hand the land over to Resolution Copper. A fine-print rider was added to December’s National Defense Authorization Act that gave the title of Oak Flat to Resolution Copper Mining, co-owned by multinational mining conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

University Continues Appache Assault At Mount Graham

Under smokescreen cover of a admirable petition to help the Navajo protect their sacred San Francisco Peaks against a ski resort, the University of Arizona and its partners have secretly renewed their Mount Graham telescope permit for another 20 years. On Mount Graham, in order to promote their astronomers, the University of Arizona has achieved several firsts, including securing two congressional exemptions from federal cultural, religious and environmental laws. In order to promote the Mt. Graham telescopes, the University of Arizona has become: the first University to fight against the listing of an Endangered Species ( July 21, 1986) the first University to secure a congressional legislative exemption from federal environmental, religious and cultural laws (1988) the first University to promote a project whose biological basis (1988 USFWS Biological Opinion on the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel) is acknowledged to be fraudulent the first University to litigate against the rights of Native Americans to practice their religion (1992)
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