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Apache Stronghold Standing In The Way Of A Massive Copper Mine

In the heart of the Arizona high desert lies a battle for the soul of the land. The ancient, sacred grounds of Apache Native territory are under threat from a looming giant — a massive copper mine that promises riches for the locals, and a pathway to the so-called green transition. But, as is often the case, it comes at a cost. The San Carlos Apache tribe calls it Chi’chil Bildagoteel, English speakers call it Oak Flat. It sits on a mountainous plateau within a 17.3-kilometer oasis in the Tonto National Forest. Rio Tinto and BHP, two of the world’s biggest mining companies, have staked their claim here through a joint venture called Resolution Copper.

Apache Stronghold Asks 29-Judge Appeals Court To Save Oak Flat

Washington - A coalition of Western Apaches and allies today asked all 29 judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to protect their sacred site at Oak Flat from destruction by a mining project. In Apache Stronghold v. United States, a special “en banc” panel of eleven judges split 6-5 earlier this year, refusing to stop the federal government from transferring Oak Flat to Resolution Copper, a foreign-owned mining company that plans to turn Oak Flat into a massive mining crater, ending Apache religious practices forever.

Phoenix Passes Ordinance Giving Workers Protection From Extreme Heat

A historic new law in Phoenix, Arizona, will provide thousands of outdoor workers in the hottest city in the country with protections from extreme heat. In a unanimous vote, the Phoenix City Council passed an ordinance requiring that workers have easy access to rest, potable water and shade, as well as training to recognize signs of heat stress, a press release from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) said. Vehicles with enclosed cabs must also have access to air conditioning. “People who work outside and in hot indoor environments in Phoenix suffer unacceptably during our deadly summers, with too few protections,” said Katelyn Parady.

Arizona’s Health Department Adds Chief Heat Officer

Following the hottest year on record, complete with a megadrought in Arizona that led to construction restrictions to reserve groundwater around Phoenix, Arizona has added a new chief heat officer to its Department of Health Services. The officer’s role is to help with extreme heat preparedness in the state. Dr. Eugene Livar, a physician who was formerly the assistant director for public health preparedness for the Department of Health Services, has been chosen for the role. Dr. Livar had helped in developing the Arizona heat preparedness plan in his former role, The Associated Press reported.

Arizona Using Covid Relief Funds To Cancel Medical Debt

Arizona has just launched a partnership with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to acquire as much as $2 billion in medical debt— and forgive all of it. The program, announced on Monday by Gov. Katie Hobbs, will benefit up to 1 million Arizona residents living below 400% of the federal poverty line or owe medical debts totaling more than 5% of their annual income. At $30 million in funding — out of pandemic relief funds allocated to Arizona under the American Rescue Plan Act — it’s the biggest example yet of a state or local government using federal dollars for massive debt cancellation.

Arizona Court Cancels EPA’s Approval Of Dicamba Pesticide

In a win for farmers and endangered plants and wildlife, an Arizona district court has revoked the approval of the destructive pesticide dicamba, saying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke the law when it allowed it to be on the market. Dicamba-based weedkillers have been widely used on soybean and cotton crops genetically engineered by Bayer (formerly Monsanto), a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity — who brought the lawsuit — said. “This is a vital victory for farmers and the environment,” said George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case, in the press release.

Tribes Say SunZia Line Threatens San Pedro River, Sue To Stop Work

Two Arizona tribes filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management for approving a high-voltage transmission line, alleging the government failed to account for historic and cultural sites through the line's San Pedro Valley route. The Tohono O’odham Nation and the San Carlos Apache Tribe, along with Archaeology Southwest and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed the suit on Jan. 17 over the authorization of the SunZia transmission line. The plaintiffs want a federal court to halt construction and require the BLM to comply with the law before continuing further activity.

Asylum Seekers Stranded Along Border Wall Near Sasabe, Arizona

The afternoon sun cut diagonally through the 16-foot-tall concrete-reinforced steel bollards marking the international boundary between the United States and Mexico east of Sasabe, Arizona. The wall’s long shadows cast a strobe light effect on cars passing along the roughly graded road cut into the mountainside along the U.S. side of the desert.

Navajo Chapters Oppose Huge Pumped Storage Projects

Black Mesa, Arizona - Tó Nizhóní Ání, Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted resolutions to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today from Navajo chapters and agencies opposing three pumped storage projects on the Navajo Nation’s Black Mesa, southeast of Kayenta. A total of 18 chapters and agencies have passed resolutions opposing the projects. “People who live here don’t want these projects, and we don’t want more damage from industrial energy development to the land and aquifers that we depend on,” said Adrian Herder of Tó Nizhóní Ání. “Asking for federal approvals before the consent of Black Mesa’s communities is the height of arrogance.

Supreme Court Keeps Navajo Nation Waiting For Water

More than 150 years after the Navajo Nation signed treaties with the United States establishing its reservation and recognizing its sovereignty, the country’s largest tribe still struggles to secure the water guaranteed by those agreements. Decades of negotiations with the state of Arizona have proven fruitless. The state has been uniquely aggressive in using the scarce resource as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from the Navajo Nation and other tribes, dragging out the talks while Indigenous communities await desperately needed water and infrastructure, a recent ProPublica and High Country News investigation found.

Oak Flat Protectors Need Support

Two longtime land protectors are maintaining a camp at Oak Flat right now and need our support. The Apache Stronghold has asked for food donations and gas cards to support their plan to sustain a presence for the foreseeable future. Both Indigenous women are mothers and their families have been a regular part of Oak Flat ceremony and organizing for years. Requested food items have been listed below. If you can offer any of these items or any other food items, please respond to this email. We are also looking for someone who can bring the first delivery to Oak Flat this weekend. Thank you for your support and prayers for Oak Flat.

‘Cop City’ Protesters Visit Nationwide Insurance

Scottsdale, Arizona — “I’m here in an official capacity, representing Nationwide,” said a protester in a blue wig and a skintight blue acrylic body suit. She wore placards strung across her shoulders with hand-painted replicas of the Nationwide logo on the front and back of her body. Her voice was muffled by the suit, which covered her entire face, hands, and probably feet. She peered out through eye holes it looked like she’d cut herself. “This insurance contract I’ve signed with Cop City is just not worth it from a business perspective,” she explained. “And also because I’m going against the wishes of the people and the Earth.” 

Arizona Town Chose Profit Over Support For Grieving Family

Tomas Ayala was a good man who was loved deeply by his family and friends.  He had a bright future ahead of him and he followed the traditional ways of his Yaqui and Navajo family. Tragically, Tomas passed away on May 13th after being struck by a drunk driver. He was 20 years old. No family is ever prepared for this. Despite existing protocols for this type of tragedy occurring in the Town of Sahuarita, Arizona; the town failed to support the Ayala family when they needed it most. This failure caused their family to be robbed of a private and peaceful grieving; instead they were forced to be distracted by insensitive demands from the town.

Arizona Restricts Home Construction Amid Lack Of Groundwater

Pressures on water supply around Arizona, along with an ongoing megadrought made worse by climate change, have been addressed by recent limits placed on the construction of new homes around Phoenix. The restrictions are meant to limit projects that would rely on groundwater, as the groundwater supply is already needed by existing properties. Most of Arizona’s water, around 41%, comes from groundwater, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Another 36% comes from the Colorado River, although the state, along with California and Nevada, recently agreed to reduce their water intake from the river by 3 million acre-feet through 2026 as the Colorado River faces shortages.

Feds Pause Progress Of Mine That Will Destroy Sacred Indigenous Site

San Francisco, CA - The federal government has temporarily halted plans to construct a copper mine on sacred Indigenous land in Arizona known as Oak Flat, citing an error in oral arguments made at a March hearing. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) official filed a letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, May 18, saying it made an error during oral arguments on March 21 when the 9th Circuit reheard Apache Stronghold v. United States, a case that encapsulates a nearly decade-long fight to save the land sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The letter states that the government was mistaken about when the U.S. Forest Service would issue the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would finalize a land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service and Resolution Copper, kickng off construction of the mine.
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