Environment | National | Politics

Company pushing mine at sacred site gives $10K to Apache youth

Ivan Walker, the co-president of the White Mountain Apache Youth Council, and Tara Kitcheyan, the Native American Affairs Advisor for Resolution Copper hold the $10,000 check as other youth stand by. Photo from Facebook

The company behind a controversial mine at a sacred site donated $10,000 to youth from the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona.

The White Mountain Apache Youth Council has been raising money to attend the UNITY conference this week in Washington, D.C. The check from Resolution Copper helps them get there.

“We have been hosting fundraisers throughout the year, trying to raise money for our youth council to attend the national UNITY conference, Ivan Walker, the co-president of the council, said in press release. "Trying to raise such a large amount of money to attend the conference where we will participate in leadership and cultural activities has been challenging."

Resolution Copper, a mining firm controlled by foreign interests, said it was happy to provide the funds. The company hired Tara Kitcheyan, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, to serve as its Native American Affairs Advisor.

“It is an honor for Resolution Copper to have the opportunity to support the White Mountain Apache Youth Council," Kitcheyan said in the press release "It is important that as neighbors and partners in our tribal communities that we invest in our youth and education and encourage innovation and leadership."

The company is the beneficiary of a controversial land swap that paves the way for a huge copper mine at Oak Flat, a site held sacred by Apache people throughout Arizona. The White Mountain Apache Tribe officially opposes the project but one of its leaders praised the donation to the youth.

“These are hard financial times for our tribe," council member Alvena Bush said in the press release. "We aren’t in a position to provide funding to our Youth Council for activities like attending the UNITY conference."

In addition to attending the UNITY conference, which starts Friday, the youth plan to meet with members of Arizona's Congressional delegation. Most of the lawmakers support the land swap that was included in Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) was not one of those lawmakers. He has introduced H.R.2811, the Save Oak Flat Act, to repeal the land swap.

The Apache Stronghold group is traveling across the country to rally support for the bill. The caravan is due to arrive in Washington, D.C., on July 21.

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