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Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians join fight against mine deal

In October, Nizhoni Pike, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, held a coming-of-age ceremony in an area that will be affected by the land swap and the Resolution Copper mine. Photo by Anna Jeffrey for The Apache Messenger

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians is joining the fight against a controversial land swap that authorizes a huge copper mine on sacred Apache sites in Arizona.

ATNI President Fawn Sharp said the Resolution Copper deal can't stand on its own in the House or the Senate. She blasted lawmakers for inserting it into the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act.

“If such a land transfer provision seems out of place in a defense bill, that’s because it is. If the idea of transferring the ownership of federal forest lands to foreign mining companies seems absurd, it’s because that’s true, too,” Sharp, who also serves as president of the Quinault Nation of Washington, said in a press release today.

Section 3003 of the 1,648-page defense package authorizes the federal government to transfer 2,400 acres in the Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, a company controlled by two multi-billion dollar foreign corporations. The deal affects sites used by Apache tribes for food and medicinal gathering and for ceremonies, including coming-of-age rites that were held as recently as October.

Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Nation of Washington. Photo from United South and Eastern Tribes

“These are sacred lands. All land is sacred to us, but this exchange includes a place of worship known as Oak Flat, which has particularly significant religious, cultural, historical, and archeological value to tribes in the region," Sharp said.

The House passed the bill by a 300-119 vote last week. The Senate could vote on it later today, The Hill newspaper reported.

A petition on whitehouse.gov to stop the land swap has exploded in interest in the last couple of days. It has nearly more than 30,000 signatures as of this afternoon.

Get the Story:
Arizona Defenders Face Imminent Land Grab by Foreign Mining Companies (Intercontinental Cry 12/9)
Mine land-swap vote imminent in Senate (The Arizona Daily Star 12/9)
Complaints about a federal land grab continue - even the burro lovers are annoyed (The Washington Times 12/9)
GOP senator to object to defense bill (The Hill 12/9)

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