For three months, the Apache have been occupying a “holy” area of Arizona to protest the government selling the land to a private, foreign mining company through a back-door rider attached to the National Defense Authorizaiton Act.
As blown up by a recent op-ed in the New York Times , hundreds from the San Carlos Apache Tribe have been on the land called Oak Flat since February.
About an hour east of Phoenix, Oak Flat has been an “ancient Apache holy place” for many generations. In fact, it’s “where Apaches go to pray,” and has been used for many generations for coming-of-age ceremonies, especially for girls.
Oak Flat has been protected by federal mandate for over 60 years, but in December 2014, Congress promised to hand the title to a private, Australian-British mining firm.
The op-ed reports on this back-door, quid-pro-quo, conflict-of-interest, cultural-genocidal mess led by one John McCain:
The swap — which will trade 5,300 acres of private parcels owned by the company to the Forest Service and give 2,400 acres including Oak Flat to Resolution so that it can mine the land without oversight — had been attempted multiple times by Arizona members of Congress on behalf of the company. (Among those involved was Rick Renzi, a former Republican representative who was sent to federal prison in February for three years for corruption related to earlier versions of the land-transfer deal.) It always failed in Congress because of lack of support. But this time was different. This time, the giveaway language was slipped onto the defense bill by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona at the 11th hour. The tactic was successful only because, like most last-minute riders, it bypassed public scrutiny.
It’s worth noting that Rio Tinto affiliates have been McCain campaign contributors, and that Mr. Flake, before he made it to Congress, was a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium (a huge uranium mine in Namibia). Mr. McCain and others assert that the mining project will be a boost to the local economy, though it’s unclear how many of the 1,400 promised jobs would be local; a Superior-area miners’ group, in fact, opposes the swap on the basis that it won’t help the local people or economy. Rio Tinto, incidentally, has been called out in the past for environmental devastation.
The writer of the piece, Lydia Millet, notes that if it were Christian, Muslim or Jewish holy land, this would not be happening. But because so-called Indians are “invisible,” there has been no uproar.
The good news is that Oak Flat may still be saved, by new legislative language, and we hope that this happens.
As if we haven’t raped Native Americans and their land enough. . .
SOURCE: The New York Times