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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Glendale, Arizona – On Sunday, Feb. 12, a group of nearly 100 people marched to one of the entrances of State Farm Stadium, where Super Bowl LVII was hosted, to demand that the Kansas City professional football team drop its team name, the Chiefs, and its associated imagery and behavior. The protest was organized by Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots, and its aim is to raise awareness of the harmful effects that race-based mascots have on Indigenous people and culture in Arizona and beyond. Participants from Kansas City flew to Arizona to protest in collaboration with local organizers to voice their disapproval in the use of what some say is not only racism, but cultural appropriation.
Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona – On Friday, Jan. 20, the United States Department of Interior hosted a fourth community listening session on its year-long “Road to Healing” tour. The tour is a result of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative launched by U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland within months of her confirmation by the U.S. Senate on June 22, 2021. “Federal Indian boarding school policies have touched every single Indigenous person I know,” said U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland at the listening session on Jan. 20 in Laveen, Arizona. “Some are survivors, some are descendants, but we all carry the trauma in our hearts.” “My ancestors, and many of yours, endured the horrors of the Indian boarding school assimilation policies of the Department I now lead,” Haaland said. A citizen of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Haaland is the first Native American to serve in a president’s cabinet. “This is the first time in history that a United States Secretary comes to the table with this shared trauma,” she said.
Phoenix, Arizona - Last year, Sen. Ron Wyden raised alarms about one of the largest government surveillance programs in recent memory. Sen. Wyden revealed that the Arizona attorney general’s office, in collaboration with the Phoenix Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, had engaged in the indiscriminate collection of money transfer records for transactions exceeding $500 sent to or from Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as to or from Mexico. Any time anyone in the U.S. used companies like Western Union or MoneyGram to send or receive money to or from one of these states or Mexico — whether to send a remittance home, or help a relative with an emergency expense, or pay a bill — a record of their transaction was deposited into a database controlled by the Arizona attorney general and shared with other law enforcement agencies.
Southern Arizona – Starting Tuesday, along I-10 in Southern Arizona, observant commuters may have noticed a peculiar uptick in the interstate’s westbound traffic — dozens, maybe even hundreds, of empty shipping containers were hauled one-by-one down the highway. From unincorporated land in Cochise County to the Arizona State Prison Complex in the southern reaches of Tucson, this curious cavalcade marked what may be the next phase of the monthslong saga that has resulted in the destruction of miles of Southern Arizona wilderness and has cost the State of Arizona over $108 million dollars for what amounts to four miles of discarded scrap metal. Since the project began in late October, workers have feverishly placed hundreds of shipping containers along the Arizona/Sonora border in Southern Cochise County, forming a precarious barrier and a gash through this otherwise pristine stretch of encinal or oak grassland.
Former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery and current Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, is attempting to flood several miles along the Arizona-Mexico border with shipping containers, citing an “invasion” from asylum seekers. As the AZ Mirror reported. The strip of land on the border, which has been the subject of recent disputes between Ducey and federal agencies, is known as the Roosevelt Reservation, established in a proclamation issued in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt as “necessary for the public welfare.” Right now: protestors have successfully shut down construction of Doug Ducey's illegal Arizona border wall for a week straight. The contractors tried to restart work at midnight tonight but were immediately halted again by some determined night owls. The haphazard wall of trash has generated both protest and condemnation from local residents, tribal governments, environmentalists, and anti-border activists.
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.
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.
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.'