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San Carlos Apache Tribe lands in DC to rally for sacred site

The Apache Stronghold group met at the U.S. Capitol on July 21, 2015, ahead of a major rally today. Photo from Facebook

Sweltering temperatures in the nation's capital aren't stopping members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and their supporters from rallying to protect one of their most sacred places.

After a 2,000-mile cross-country journey that took them from Arizona to South Dakota to Minnesota to New York City, the Apache Stronghold group launched a spiritual run from Rock Creek Park in the northwest part of Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Participants stopped in front of the White House for a brief ceremony before heading to the U.S. Capitol.

The tribe and its supporters will be back at the Capitol grounds this morning for the main event: a rally to stop a company controlled by foreign interests from developing a mine at sacred Oak Flat. The controversial project has been in the public eye since Congress authorized it in the final hours of the 113th Congress.

San Carlos Apache Tribe Council Member Wendsler Nosie Sr. in front of the White House on July 21, 2015. Photo from Facebook

San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler, council member Wendsler Nosie Sr. and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) are due to speak in support of H.R.2811, the Save Oak Flat Act. The bill repeals Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized a land swap for the Resolution Copper mine.

"To the San Carlos Apache, a stretch of canyon land in Tonto National Forest known as Oak Flat is a sacred part of their culture and heritage," Grijalva, who introduced the bill on July 1, said on Facebook yesterday. "To a copper mining company called Resolution Copper, it’s just a place to make a buck."

"Congress has no business taking a sacred site from the First Americans to curry favor with foreign-owned corporations," Grijalva said. "It's time to repeal this shameful deal."

Young tribal members have been participating in the Apache Stronghold journey to Washington. D.C. Photo from Facebook

The tribe has drawn some prominent supporters during its journey to D.C. Musician and activist Neil Young gave Nosie and other tribal members stage time during his summer tour to educate his large audiences about Oak Flat.

The tribe is hoping Congress -- and President Barack Obama, who signed the defense measure that included the land swap into law -- are listening. Grijalva's bill so far has 24 co-sponsors but it has not yet received a hearing.

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