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Sacred sites

Mexican Indigenous Group Fights To Preserve Sacred Sites

Guadalajara, Mexico — Dressed in white clothing embroidered in colors and symbols representing the sacred universe, Mario Muñoz Cayetano, a man with a good-natured expression and deep gaze, speaks on the importance of a presidential decree to legally protect sacred territory. “For us, nature is one big, gigantic church, but we don’t need cement or even a building in order to respect it. A hill, a cave, a spring, a river, rocks, mountains … to us, they are temples,” says Muñoz, president emeritus of the Wixárika Union of Ceremonial Centers of Jalisco, Durango and Nayarit A.C., an organization made up of Wixaritari that monitors the conservation and protection of sacred sites.

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.

Tribal Groups Want Full Ninth Circuit Court To Rehear Oak Flat Appeal

An Apache nonprofit is asking the Ninth Circuit's entire 29-judge panel to review its lawsuit that seeks to block a copper mining company from destroying a sacred Indigenous religious site, arguing that an en banc hearing is warranted given the appellate court's latest split decision on the land transfer. In a 268-page petition for a special en banc rehearing, the Apache Stronghold on Monday argued that Ninth Circuit panels have now twice tried to define "substantial burden" in the case's context, and, given the vast power it holds over the lives of Native Americans, unique circumstances warrant a full-court review.

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.

Apache Stronghold: Ninth Circuit Ruling Does Not Advance Mine

San Carlos Apache Reservation, Ariz.– While the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Friday, March 1, 2024 against the non-profit citizens group Apache Stronghold is extremely disappointing, the ruling does not clear the way for construction of the Resolution Copper Mine. “The culturally and environmentally devastating Resolution project is no closer to construction today than it was before the appeals court ruling,” San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler said. “The Tribe will continue to fight construction of the project that would have devastating impacts to the Tribe’s culture, the environment and Arizona’s drinking water supplies.”

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.

Mapuche People On High Alert As Milei’s Government Takes Office

The land recovery of the Mapuche people is no living a moment of extreme vulnerability with the entry into government of Javier Milei, a president who vindicates the indigenous massacre headed by General Roca. Although an agreement was reached at the Dialogue Table in June 2023, which recognized the Rewe as a sacred place and authorized the return of Machi Betiana, the outgoing government did not implement the return of the land nor the reconstruction of the houses. In addition, the legislature of Río Negro approved reforms that favor mining companies, without respecting the right to free consultation of the native communities.

National Parks Are More Than Scenic − They’re Sacred

Abraham Lincoln has an almost saintly place in U.S. history: the “Great Emancipator” whose leadership during the Civil War preserved the Union and abolished slavery. Often overlooked among his achievements is legislation he signed June 30, 1864, during the thick of the war – but only marginally related to the conflict. The Yosemite Valley Grant Act preserved the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in California as a park “held for public use, resort, and recreation … for all time.” It was the first time the federal government had set aside land for its scenic value, and it created a model for U.S. national parks, which are themselves hallowed sites in American culture.

Lithium Nevada Lawsuit Aims To Stop Praying At Sacred Site

Reno, Nevada — Lithium Nevada Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Protect Thacker Pass and seven people for opposing the Thacker Pass lithium mine. The lawsuit is similar to what is called a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” or SLAPP suit, aimed at shutting down free speech and protest. The suit aims to ban the prayerful land defenders from the area and force them to pay monetary damages which could total millions of dollars. “This lawsuit is targeting Native Americans and their allies for a non-violent prayer to protect the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre site,” said Terry Lodge, attorney working with the group.

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.

Ox Sam Camp Being Raided

Orovada, NV — This morning, a group of Native American water protectors and allies used their bodies to non-violently block construction of the controversial Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, turning back bulldozers and heavy equipment. The dramatic scene unfolded this morning as workers attempting to dig trenches near Sentinel Rock were turned back by land defenders who ran and put their bodies between heavy equipment and the land. Now they are being arrested and camp is being raided. Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people consider Thacker Pass to be sacred.

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.

Ox Sam Camp/PeeHee Mu’Huh Ordered To Leave Or Face Arrest

Orovada, Nevada — For nearly two and a half years, local Native American tribes and leaders have been trying to stop the Thacker Pass lithium project, an open-pit mine that will destroy a sacred site. But despite lawsuits, rallies, regulatory hearings, and community organizing, Lithium Nevada Corporation has now begun construction of the mine at the place Paiutes call “Peehee Mu’huh,” or rotten moon. But the construction has not gone unopposed. On May 11th, Native Americans from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone and other regional tribes set up a tipi at Thacker Pass and began prayers directly in the path of the construction of Lithium Nevada’s water pipeline.

The Biden Administration Is Preparing To Approve A Copper Mine On Oak Flat

San Carlos Apache Reservation— San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler today sharply criticized reports that the Biden Administration is preparing to approve the proposed Resolution Mine that would destroy sacred Indigenous land located at Oak Flat on the Tonto National Forest about 70 miles east of Phoenix. “Obliterating Oak Flat for a copper mine will be a grave human rights violation against Indigenous people and an environmental catastrophe,” Chairman Rambler said. “Only China and shareholders of the two largest foreign mining companies in the world will benefit.”  Resolution Copper Company wants to construct one of the largest copper mines in the world using a mining plan that will destroy Oak Flat, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property.  

Apache Stronghold Granted New Hearing On Copper 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. 
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