Environment | Law | National

San Carlos Apache Tribe leads 40-mile march for sacred site

Marchers walked through Globe, Arizona, last night as part of the 40-mile journey to Oak Flat. Photo by Kenneth Chan / Facebook

Dozens of members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona, along with their supporters, are completing a 40-mile march to one of their most sacred sites.

Participants gathered at the tribal administration building yesterday morning for the journey to Oak Flat. They passed through Globe last night and are due to reach the site that will be affected by a huge copper mine this afternoon.

"Blisters, sunburn but great unity and strong spirits," a tribal member said on Facebook this afternoon as the walkers approached Oak Flat. "Keep prayers up for them."

Marchers passed by open mine sites along Highway 60 to Oak Flat. Photo by Richard Gonzalez / Facebook

In December, Congress passed H.R.3979, the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 3003 of the 1,648-page package authorizes the transfer of federal land to Resolution Copper for a mine at Oak Flats.

President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on December 19 despite protests from Apache tribes and tribes around the country. In response to a petition that opposed the transfer, the White House said the Obama administration will work with the mining company to address concerns about the sacred site.

Although Section 3003 requires consultation of tribes that will be affected by the mine, it allows the swap to go through no matter how strong the objections. It only requires Resolution Copper to come up with "mutually acceptable measures" to address the impacts to the sacred sites.

Nearly every tribe in Arizona opposes the mine. It affects sites used by Apache tribes for food and medicinal gathering and for ceremonies, including coming-of-age rites that were held as recently as last October.

Get the Story:
San Carlos Apache tribe begins 40-mile march to protest copper mine (Cronkite News 2/6)
Native Americans protest Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton copper mine (AFR Weekend 2/6)
San Carlos Apache Tribe Protests Land Exchange Act (KJZZ 2/5)

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