Republicans in Arizona have been attempting for years to trade away the beautiful national forest lands at Oak Flat in Arizona, which are considered holy by the Apache tribe. And until recently, they’ve failed for lack of support. But last December, in a deeply cynical and undemocratic move, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake snuck last minute language into a must-pass defense bill transferring the land directly to the Rio Tinto mining company.2
Apache tribal leaders are planning a caravan to Washington, D.C. this month to protest this outrageous land giveaway. We’re joining thousands of activists to help amplify their message and pressure Congress to stop the Apache land grab.
Sign the petition: Stop the Apache land grab and protect Native American holy land from copper mining.
It’s hard to imagine politicians in Washington making the same deal for this land if it were considered sacred and holy by any other major religious group. But it’s sadly in keeping with a history of Native American mistreatment and dislocation.
And this land isn’t just important to the local Apache tribe – it’s important to historians, archaeologists, and all Americans who care about preserving a crucial piece of U.S. and Native American culture. When asked about the significance of the land at Oak Flat, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada stated, “this is the best set of Apache archaeological sites ever documented, period, full stop.”3
Foreign-owned mining giant Rio Tinto has repeatedly sought control of this copper-rich land over the past decade, lobbying Congress more than a dozen times since 2005.4 And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Senators McCain and Flake were behind this unprecedented corporate giveaway. McCain has received campaign contributions from Rio Tinto subsidiaries for years, and Flake – before being elected to Congress – actually lobbied for a Rio Tinto subsidiary in support of a massive uranium mine in Namibia.
We need to fight back against this deeply undemocratic move and show Washington that Americans won’t stand by as our legislative process is twisted and sold off to the highest bidder.
Sign the petition: Protect Native American holy land from mining.
Thank you for your activism.
- Lydia Millet, "Selling Off Apache Holy Land," The New York Times, May 29, 2015.
- Zach Zorich, "Planned Arizona copper mine would put a hole in Apache archaeology," Science, December 10, 2014.
- Serene Fang, "In Arizona, a controversial federal land swap leaves Apaches in the lurch," Al Jazeera America, February 20, 2015.