Environment | Politics

Tribal lobbying halts measure for copper mine by sacred site





An Arizona Republican lashed out against the San Carlos Apache Tribe for stirring up opposition to a bill that would authorize the largest copper mine in North America.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) was forced to pull H.R.687, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, from the House floor on Wednesday after he learned he didn't have enough support to get it passed. He then blamed the tribe for his failure.

"I am disappointed that a mine of national significance that would have employed so many Native Americans was opposed by the leadership of the San Carlos Apache Tribe - a tribe plagued with excessively high unemployment and poverty," Gosar said in a press release."It is inexplicable decisions like this that directly result in the continued poverty of the tribe and the deterioration of the economic prospects of the town of Superior and the entire State of Arizona."

"The San Carlos Apache leadership has lied to and misled other tribal leaders across the nation about this project," Gosar continued. "Polls show the majority of San Carlos Apache tribal members support the mine and the jobs. Their tribal leadership is out of touch with its own people. I am confident that the truth will prevail and the will of the members of the tribe and surrounding communities will be done."

Besides the San Carlos Apache, nearly every tribe in Arizona opposes the bill. So does the National Congress of American Indians, the United South and Eastern Tribes, the All Indian Pueblo Council and other Apache tribes.

Yet most of the state's Congressional delegation -- including Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona), who was born on an Apache reservation, continues to push for a land swap to authorize a mine near a sacred Apache site.

The effort also has a tainted history -- former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Arizona) was found guilty on corruption charges in connection with a prior version of the bill.

Get the Story:
Arizona Copper Land Swap Hits Setback (Fronteras 11/13)
House vote on Resolution Copper mine put off indefinitely (The Arizona Republic 11/14)

Related Stories:
Ex-Rep. Rick Renzi sentenced to three years in corruption case (10/29)
Editorial: Respect tribe's concerns about mine near sacred site (10/16)
House takes up bill to authorize copper mine near sacred site (9/26)