Steven Newcomb: Sacred lands are Christmas gift for mining firm

Steven Newcomb. Photo from Finding the Missing Link

Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute, links the giveaway of sacred Apache lands in Arizona to the ongoing domination of the original nations:
When the U.S Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 on December 12, 2014, it thereby approved a land swap that will hand over to the global Rio Tinto Mining Company a 2400 acre area that is part of the traditional territory of, and sacred to, the Apache Nation. The area is the location of a massive copper deposit which will be mined for the billions of dollars that will accrue to the dominating societies of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

When Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Nation recently complained to Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) about the pending land swap travesty that Gosar was supporting, the U.S. representative demonstrated his sympathy with Stago’s concerns by saying: “You’re still wards of the federal government.” A ward is someone deemed to be an incompetent dependent under the control of a responsible guardian or trustee.

A follow-up statement issued by Representative Gosar’s office says in part: “One of the federal government’s dirty little secrets is that Native American tribes are not fully sovereign nations in today’s society.” Gosar’s statement further says that his “comments made at the roundtable last Friday were about this reality and current laws that govern the relationship between tribes and the federal government.”

Statements by rhetorically skilled statesmen need to be carefully parsed and examined in terms of words they have chosen not to use because to use them would reveal what they prefer to leave unsaid, especially when it comes to patterns of domination. Think, for example, of how much more precise and revealing Representative Gosar’s statement would have been if he had talked about “this reality and current laws that govern the colonial dominating relationship between tribes and the federal government.”

If Gosar had made explicit the colonial and colonizing relationship between the U.S. and Indian nations, his comment would trace to the word “colon,” which is the root of “colonization.” The root of the word “colon” is “colo,” which means, “to filter out impurities in the process of mining.” Mining all resources, even “human resources,” is the background context and purpose of the imperial process of colonization.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Congress’ Christmas Gift for the Rio Tinto Mining Company (Indian Country Today 12/27)

Related Stories:
Apache Messenger: Crowd protests copper mine on sacred lands (12/22)

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