Apache Stronghold rallies at US Capitol against copper mining at Oak Flat

On the 22nd of July, Apache Stronghold rallied in front of the US Capitol to demand passage of HR-2811, the Save Oak Flat Act. This act would reverse the late-night addition of the “SouthEast Arizona Land Exchange” to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA). Three politicians instrumental in addding this totally unrelated rider to transfer sacred Apache land to Resolution Copper LLC for a destructive copper mine to the NDAA were singled out by name and presented as devils in a banner. They are Senators John McCain(R-AZ), Sen Jeff Flake(R-AZ), and Rep Ann Kirkpatrick(D-AZ).

Update 7-23 1:15PM:After the rally, grandmothers and young women were threatened with immediate arrest and “escorted out” of the House office buildings after including Rep Paul Gosar in their visits to members of Congress. He hid behind a locked door and demanded Capitol Police remove all Apache people immediately. He was visited after sending a “dear colleages” letter to other House members insulting the Apache and calling them liars.He has a long record of intolerance against Native Americans

Video-calling out McCain, singling out Kirkpatrick for betrayal(5 min 8 sec, 360×640, 36Mb)



Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick was singled out as a traitor, as she was raised on the White Mountain Apache Nation reservation and even learned to speak Apache. One of the speakers on stage spoke of celebrations when she was elected, now bitterly regretted as she speaks ill of tribal traditions and has thrown in her lot with Sen McCain to support Resolution Mining LLC’s bid to mine copper on sacred Apache land.

If the proposed copper mine is built,all of Oak Flat would be within the subsidance area caused by the mine. It is estimated the collapse over the unsupported mine would be as deep as 800 feet, swallowing up Oak Flat entirely. Oak Flat is a sacred place to the Apache, some online stories only refer to it as a “popular campground” without mentioning who is camping there or the importance of acorns from the oak trees there to the Apache. Although this is to be an underground mine, the Resolution Copper Mining project does not proposed to shore up tunnels in any way. This is “retreat mining,” a notoriously dangerous practice where a mine is deliberately allowed to cave in as ore or coal is removed. It runs the risk of out of control collapse and miners being trapped. Supporters of the mine claim it will generate thousands of jobs, but figures show it would actually create about 350 jobs, slightly more than the number lost to the closure of an entire Gay neighborhood to build the Washington Nationals stadium. Resolution says they want to hire Apache people for those jobs, many of which would be jobs risking being trapped in the mine forever.

Resolution Copper LLC is a subsidiary or Rio Tinto, globally famous for destructive mines and human rights violations. Rio Tinto’s name translates from Spanish as “tainted river,” named for the site of their first mine, a river that runs red from leftover runoff from the very first copper mining there perhaps 5,000 years ago. Interestingly, Rio Tinto owns 69% of the Rossing Uranium Mine in Namibia, a mine in which the government of Iran holds a 15% stake. One of the speakers warned of the possiblity of copper from a US mine being used in war against the US in war due to this mine’s proposed foreign ownership. Attaching a bill to export militarily strategic materials to the defense budget shows how much bought and paid for politicians value money even over their own security.Rio Tinto’s former Spanish operations meant they were a supplier of pyrites to the Axis powers during WWII, but Franco’s meddling with that mine made it unprofitable so Rio Tinto abandoned all investments in mines in Spain in 1954.

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