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Apache Chair: Copper mine threatens sacred sites

"Our position is simple and straightforward. For the Apaches, this area, which includes Oak Flat campground and Apache Leap, belongs to the Gaan, who are our sacred Crowndancers.

Since time immemorial, we have found refuge there and gathered precious medicinal herbs and traditional food there.

Our goal is to protect these sites from potential ruin. Once they are lost, they can never be regained. Our people will not sacrifice our ancestors' legacy and our children's future for the political expediency of moving legislation forward that does not protect these sites.

The Republic's editorial stated that tribal concerns have been "satisfactorily addressed." However, this is simply not true. The fact is that SB 2466 does not contain provisions that adequately protect our sacred sites.

For example, the Oak Flat Campground will be closed after two years due to safety concerns associated with the mining process.

Also, while the conservation easement accommodates the town of Superior's concerns over its scenic view, as well as the rock-climbing communities' concern over its continued recreational enjoyment in that area, it does not address the Apache people's cultural, religious and historical concerns."

Get the Story:
San Carlos Apache Chairwoman Kathy W. Kitcheyan: Apaches will defy mine deal that threatens sacred lands (The Arizona Republic 8/28)