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Arizona

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.

Confronting White Nationalism And the Limits Of The Campus Left

Tempe, Arizona - Beneath the veneer of liberal civility at Arizona State University (ASU), located in Tempe, lies a long history of the campus welcoming white supremacists and fascists, excused by a hand-wave towards public university inclusivity. Such was the case when the Phoenix Anarchist Federation and the wider community received word that the College Republicans United (CRU), the even more grotesque sibling of the ASU College Republicans, had invited Jared Taylor to speak on campus. Taylor, a noted white supremacist who has gained notoriety as the brains behind the American Renaissance conference, which helped popularize fascist ideas to a broader and often younger audience, is not the first virulent fascist to be hosted by the CRU.

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.'

A Measure To Crack Down On Predatory Medical Debt Collection

Liz Gorski was a 15-year-old in Prescott, Arizona, when she was in a car accident that changed her life, and trapped her in a cycle of medical debt. After being in a coma for five days, Gorski woke up in the hospital to a new reality. She needed surgeries, physical therapy, and extensive medical care, a bill that ended up being over a million dollars, Gorski recalled. Insurance covered some of these initial expenses, and a lawsuit several years later covered more of the bill. But she still had medical debt sent to collections. Gorski’s health problems have required lifelong treatment, as she continues to deal with the aftermath of the crash, and the medical bills keep piling up. “Every single time I go, I have a copay and then I have some part of the bill billed to me, and every month I’m paying on all of these bills just to make sure that they don’t go to collections, but sometimes they do because it’s just too many at one time,” she told More Perfect Union.Liz Gorski was a 15-year-old in Prescott, Arizona, when she was in a car accident that changed her life, and trapped her in a cycle of medical debt. After being in a coma for five days, Gorski woke up in the hospital to a new reality. She needed surgeries, physical therapy, and extensive medical care, a bill that ended up being over a million dollars, Gorski recalled. Insurance covered some of these initial expenses, and a lawsuit several years later covered more of the bill. But she still had medical debt sent to collections. Gorski’s health problems have required lifelong treatment, as she continues to deal with the aftermath of the crash, and the medical bills keep piling up. “Every single time I go, I have a copay and then I have some part of the bill billed to me, and every month I’m paying on all of these bills just to make sure that they don’t go to collections, but sometimes they do because it’s just too many at one time,” she told More Perfect Union.

Infrastructure Law Won’t Fund Cleanup Of Uranium Mines On Indigenous Lands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will dole out $3.5 billion to clean up the most hazardous contaminated sites in the country, but so far, no Arizona sites are set to receive funding. And some of the most polluted locations in the state, the hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on Indigenous lands, are likely ineligible for the money. The funding comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law, which passed last November and is considered the Biden administration’s top legislative achievement.  The first round of money will allocate $1 billion to clear the backlog of so-called orphaned sites on the National Priorities List. That list, part of the Superfund program, includes what the U.S. government considers the most contaminated sites in the country. The sites are nicknamed orphans because they haven't received any money for cleanup yet.  

Annual Run To Raise Awareness About Sacred Site Mount Graham

A group of Indigenous activists and their allies will run from the San Carlos Apache Reservation to the summit of Mount Graham starting Thursday to honor one of their most sacred sites and to commemorate the beginnings of a local Native grassroots movement to preserve Indigenous sacred places. The 31st Annual Mount Graham Sacred Run begins at the Old San Carlos Monument, the site of the original Indian agency and military post, dating to when Apache people were first restricted to the San Carlos Reservation. It will continue along state and local highways to the summit of Mount Graham, one of the Southwest's Sky Islands.  "We're headed back to where we started," said Wendsler Nosie. The longtime tribal rights activist and former San Carlos Apache Tribe chairman is also the head of grassroots group Apache Stronghold, which is organizing the event. 

Skiing On A Sacred Mountain

Flagstaff, Arizona - Hopi farmer Bucky Preston talks to the clouds that form atop Arizona’s tallest mountain. And they talk back. For 2,000 years, communication with the sky has been an important traditional farming method of the Hopi and their Puebloan ancestors. The clouds drift with Hopi prayers from the mountain they call Nuva’tukya’ovi – “place of snow on the very top” – to the tribe’s villages, providing life-giving rain and spiritual sustenance to the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. But last fall, the sacred conversation fell silent. “I did not have a harvest,” says Preston, 72. “It was the first time in my life that happened.” He says other farmers, who grow without chemical fertilizer or irrigation, experienced the same.

ASU Students Fight To Defend Multicultural Center

Arizona State University, like many other college campuses in America, is a pivotal location for the struggle against racism. The campus has had several incidents calling attention to the mistreatment of Black and Brown people in Arizona, such as when a Black professor was tackled to the ground for “jaywalking” by an ASU police officer in 2014. After the uprising against racism in 2020, many student groups have called for the defunding and disarmament of the ASU police department, as well as the creation of a “Cultural Excellency Center” on campus. The Cultural Excellency Center, also referred to as the Multicultural Center, is a long-running initiative spearheaded by the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition — a non-ASU-affiliated coalition of students who have been fighting for a space on campus since 2016.

Judge Refuses Injunction To Stop Sacred Oak Flat Destruction

Phoenix, AZ – This afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Logan denied Apache Stronghold's request for an injunction preventing the giveaway and destruction of sacred Oak Flat to Rio Tinto/Resolution Copper.  Judge Logan said that Apache Stronghold has no right to ask the Court for help because they are not an officially designated a "sovereign nation."  Judge Logan said that the U.S. Government has no Trust Responsibility to the Apache even though their Treaty of 1852 says, "the government of the United States shall so legislate and act as to secure the permanent prosperity and happiness of said Indians." 

Officials Create ‘Fictional Gang’ To Punish Phoenix Protesters

Amy Kaper promises she is not a gang member. The 29-year-old graduate student does not run drugs, traffic guns, or work in any organized crime ring. But, she did protest police violence last year. For that, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department are aggressively prosecuting Kaper — and a group of 17 other defendants, including three minors — for being part of a criminal street gang following an October 17 protest in downtown Phoenix. In fact, officers and prosecutors allege the group is as dangerous — and in some ways more dangerous — than notorious gangs like the Crips, Bloods, and Hells Angels.

Emotional Court Hearing Over Proposed Copper Mine At Oak Flat Sacred Site

Opponents of a copper mine project that would obliterate an Apache sacred site east of Phoenix asked a federal judge Wednesday to stop work on the project. The group Apache Stronghold filed the first in a series of three lawsuits Jan. 12 to stop Resolution Copper from proceeding with a huge copper mine below Oak Flat, a site deemed sacred to many Apaches and other Southwestern tribes. The suit was filed three days before the Forest Service issued the final environmental impact statement regarding the mine project on Jan. 15, starting a 60-day clock on a land swap that would turn the land over to Resolution.  The site, currently a Forest Service campground, sits about 5 miles east of Superior just off U.S. Highway 60.

Black Lives Matter Protestors Charged As A Gang

Maricopa County, AZ - In Washington, D.C., members of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol and killed a police officer are so far being charged mainly with disorderly conduct and unlawful entry. The man photographed with his feet on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk faces three charges that carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison. After the violent siege, some members of the mob simply returned to their hotel. Many were quick to point out an apparent double standard when compared to the way police in D.C. treated Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer—like when they tear gassed protesters to clear the way for a Trump photo op, or when row upon row of National Guard troops stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial...

Yuma Hospital Fires ER Doctor For Talking About COVID-19

Dr. Cleavon Gilman, a well-known emergency-medicine physician, has been asked not to return to his work at Yuma Regional Medical Center for his social media posts about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona, according to him and his staffing agency. "What I don't understand about this is I have been advocating for Arizona; I have been calling for a mask mandate, the closure of schools and indoor dining," Gilman told The Arizona Republic. "I did all of this because we are seeing an unprecedented number of cases. This is my third surge — I know how this ends."

Trump Administration Is Rushing To Mine Sacred Tribal Land

In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company. The administration pushed to finish the environmental review process, a necessary step to transfer ownership to copper mining company Resolution Copper, and its two parent companies Rio Tinto and BHP, to December 2020, almost a full year ahead of the planned completion. "The Trump administration is cutting corners and doing a rushed job just to take care of Rio Tinto..."

Inmate Kitchen Workers Forced To Serve Expired Meat In Prison

Arizona - Incarcerated people who work in the kitchens at the Eyman, Lewis and Yuma state prisons claim they were forced to serve expired meat to their fellow inmates, resulting in foodborne illnesses. Several inmates report being diagnosed with H. pylori infections, which they attribute to the food and unsanitary conditions in the kitchens. The inmates say they were subsequently put on antibiotics in recent days and weeks to treat the infections.  KJZZ is not naming the inmates because they fear retaliation for speaking out about the prison conditions.
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