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.
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.
After a divided ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has agreed to rehear the case “en banc”—meaning in front of a full panel of eleven judges. Oral argument will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Courtroom Three of the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse, located at 125 South Grand Avenue in Pasadena, California 91105. In June of this year, a panel of three Ninth Circuit court judges ruled 2:1 against Apache Stronghold, with Judge Berzon dissenting and calling the ruling “illogical,” “incoherent,” “flawed,” and “absurd.” Now, a majority of the Ninth Circuit’s 29 active judges has voted to rehear the case and will convene a special panel of eleven judges to decide whether the law allows the government to destroy sacred sites.
In 2014, Congress used a midnight rider added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to hand the Indigenous Sacred Land at Oak Flats in Arizona over to a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, Resolution Copper, to mine, which would destroy the land and pollute the local water. Apache Stronghold and its allies are fighting to protect the land and with it, their cultural identity and religious freedom. A new Bureau of Land Management report and conflict within the Ninth Circuit Court are promising for them. Clearing the FOG speaks with Dr. Wendsler Nosie, Sr. about the significance of Oak Flats and how it exposes the ways colonization and capitalism harm and threaten the existence of most people in the United States, not just the Native American population. Dr. Nosie discusses spirituality, ancient prophecies and the urgent need to work together to change course.
The Apache Stronghold Spiritual Convoy to the 9th Circuit Court is underway and made a stop in Tucson, Arizona on Wednesday. A Tohono O’odham blessing took place at the popular overlook on “A” mountain, followed by a gathering at Southside Presbyterian Church. The spiritual convoy is underway in hopes of stopping an international mining company, Resolution Copper, and its parent company, Rio Tinto, from extracting copper from the Oak Flat campground area, 60 miles east of Phoenix. Apache Stronghold has issued a litany of complaints, lawsuits and appeals attempting to stop the project from going through, after advocates said the late U.S. Sen. John McCain underhandedly slipped the measure into the National Defense Spending Bill in the 11th hour in December 2014.
The Pueblo of Zuni would be remiss in this context to remain silent on the recent legal position taken by the Biden-Harris Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding Chi'chil Bildagoteel (i.e., Oak Flat) and the Resolution Copper mine in Arizona. The Administration's stated position is unfortunate and extremely troubling, as it is in fact little more than a continuation of a policy of containment and erasure of Native peoples that directly contradicts in substance, content, and spirit the Administration's own E.O. 13985. This position is a reinforcement and reproduction of racist legal legacies of Native dispossession in the United States that gives preference to and promotes resource extraction and environmental destruction to the detriment of the capacities Native people indelibly require for any advancement or support of equity.
Washington, DC - Citing the Presidential Memorandum signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 26 on tribal consultation and strengthening nation to nation relationships, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has put on hold the transfer of 5,439 acres of high-value conservation land in Arizona to Resolution Copper. The acres include Chich’il Bildagoteel, known as Oak Flat, which is the heart of several southwest tribal religious and cultural beliefs. During the last days of the Trump administration, federal officials attempted to speed up the transfer to Resolution Copper that would mine the land. On January 15, 2021, five days before Trump left the presidency, the Tonto National Forest released the Resolution Copper Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for objection.
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."
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.
BHP and Rio Tinto, two of the world’s largest resource extraction companies, have earned themselves a solid reputation for obliterating native lands and communities throughout the world. Leaders in the international mining market, the British-Australian companies are globally condemned for their labor, environmental and human rights abuses. Today, they’re hard at work to expand that reputation to Arizona, where their jointly-owned company Resolution Copper advances toward the destruction of ancestral Apache land Oak Flat. Following the outcry caused by Rio Tinto’s deliberate gutting of 46,000-year-old Aboriginal sacred site Juukan Gorge in Western Australia, Rio Tinto and BHP voiced public concessions to work cooperatively with First Nations.
Apache Stronghold, on behalf of traditional Apache religious and cultural leaders, placed a lien on Oak Flat on Wednesday, January 13, with the Pinal County Recorder’s Office. The lien prevents the planned transfer of Oak Flat, or Chi’chil Bildagoteel, to a foreign mining company until the recently filed ongoing Apache Stronghold lawsuit is finalized. The lien and one of the lawsuit claims are based on the Treaty of Santa Fe of 1852 between the United States and the Apache which promises that Apache lands, at the center of which lies Chi’chil Bildagoteel, are to remain in Apache ownership. The Treaty of Santa Fe is still in force.
Apache Stronghold, on behalf of traditional Apache religious and cultural leaders, sued the Trump administration today in U.S. District Court in Phoenix to stop the transfer of Oak Flat, or Chi'chil Bildagoteel, to British-Australian corporate mining giant Rio Tinto and its subsidiary, Resolution Copper. The lawsuit seeks to stop the U.S. Forest Service’s publication on January 15, 2021, of a final environmental impact statement that will trigger the transfer of Oak Flat to Resolution Copper. The Forest Service is rushing publication to help Rio Tinto take possession of Oak Flat before the end of the Trump administration, despite opposition by Apache Stronghold, San Carlos Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe and hundreds of other Native American tribes.
The Alliance for Global Justice stands in solidarity with Apache Clans and over 300 Native Nations who seek to protect the Oak Flat site of south-eastern Arizona from devastating copper mining extraction. For over ten years, the San Carlos Apache and neighboring tribes have mobilized to prevent the destruction of this sacred land, which for centuries has been revered as a holy site by the Apache. Oak Flat holds the history, lives and prayers of at least eight Apache Clans and two Apache Western Bands, is home to a wealth of medicinal and edible plants, burial grounds and water sources rising from the Apache Leap Tuff aquifer.
Resolution Copper, owned by two foreign companies, has been maneuvering for years to acquire and destroy the oasis of Oak Flat. Traditionally the Apache have come here for edible and medicinal plants. Various native bird species live here, and there’s lots of water. According to Roy Chavez who once served as mayor of Superior, an ocelot road-carcass was found nearby, indicating that Oak Flat is evidently within the range of this rare and elusive cat. The huge rocks and ancient oaks are treasures that must be protected for their environmental and their sacred value. They are part of the culture that has flourished here for thousands of years. It would be infinitely horrible to destroy this site.
By George Pauk for Popular Resistance. Oak Flat, Arizona - We are back at the mountain campsite that is the prime example of the persistent greed of our empire. The shame of us “whites” is palpable here in the beautiful high desert. Again, we find the Native Americans already here, ---we are visitors. They welcome us, but we know it is long past due that we need to decolonize this land. It has been one year since a group of people of the San Carlos Apache tribe called out the dastardly actions of our Arizona Senators (McCain and Flake). The senators, joined by other politicians, slyly “gave” this sacred land of the Apaches to foreign corporations. The politicians have benefited financially for their campaigns. They blatantly continue their charade of pretend that the rape of this land and waters will benefit us. They wish to create another huge pit of rubble where the beauty of ancient, historic trees, wild animals and sacred culture now lives.