oakflat
For more than six years, tribal members and allies have been holding camps, rallies, relay runs and other demonstrations to resist the mining on sacred treaty land at Oak Flat in Arizona. Photo by Talli Nauman / Native Sun News Today
Biden tribal consultation memo waylays giant Apache Leap copper mine
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Native Sun News Today Health & Environment Editor

OAK FLAT, Arizona — To make good on Joe Biden’s recent Presidential Memorandum for tribal consultation and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships, the U.S. Forest Service on March 1 rescinded its permit for a massive foreign copper mine that would engulf sacred Apache sites here.

For years, the two biggest metal mining companies in the world, Rio Tinto and BHPBilliton, have sought to open the Resolution Copper Mine at this location 50 miles east of Phoenix.

They have encountered a block of opposition from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Fort McDowell Yavapai Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, the Intertribal Council of Arizona and the National Congress of American Indians.

San Carlos Apache Tribal Chair Terry Rambler called the withdrawal of the permit “the right move,” noting, “The Resolution Copper Mine Project will desecrate Chich’il Bildagoteel, also known as Oak Flat, which is the heart of our religious and cultural beliefs.”

The tribe took the Forest Service to court for failing to follow the law in the preparation of the final environmental impact statement, which was fast-tracked to permit the project on January 15, under the previous Administration of former President Donald Trump.

For more than six years, tribal members and allies have been holding camps, rallies, relay runs and other demonstrations to resist the mining on sacred treaty land.

“This fight has never been about just one site: It’s been about ending the cycle of ignoring tribal input whenever it suits polluters,” U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., said in a joint media release with Rambler.

“The Trump Administration rushed this document out the door as just one more favor to industry, regardless of how legally or scientifically unsupportable it was,” he said, pledging to renew efforts to introduce the Save Oak Flat Act.

The act is seen as a means to prevent a land transfer that deprives the Apache of access to 2,400 acres in the Tonto National Forest in order for Resolution Copper to mine. This transfer was approved in a midnight rider on the must-pass 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Resolution Copper Project threatens the water supply of the thirsty Chiricahua Mountains, already damaged by previous boom-and-bust copper exploitation. It would literally undermine the springs at Oak Flat and besmirch the landscape around Apache Leap.

The Legend of Apache Tears has it that 75 Apache warriors trapped on a mountain ledge here leaped to their death rather than be killed by the U.S. troops surrounding them.

NATIVE SUN NEWS TODAY

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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.net

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