Environment | National | Politics

Wife of Bernie Sanders slated to visit sacred Apache site in Arizona

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Jane Sanders. Photo from Facebook

Leaders and members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona will welcome Jane Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, to one of their sacred sites this Sunday.

Jane Sanders is traveling to Arizona to meet with the Apache Stronghold. Tribal council member Wendsler Nosie, Sr. Nosie started the group to protect Oak Flat, an important ceremonial and gathering site, from being harmed by a controversial copper mine.

"I’m so excited that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane, has committed to visit Oak Flat to discuss the occupation by the Stronghold,” Nosie said in a press release.

As the Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders is no stranger to Oak Flat. Last summer, he introduced S.2242, the Save Oak Flat Act, a bill that repeals a rider that authorized the Resolution Copper mine.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), third from left in back row, with tribal leaders and tribal members in Washington, D.C., on November 4, 2015. Photo from Twitter

In a video message played at the National Congress of American Indians winter session in Washington, D.C., last month, Sanders said is working "to stop the corporate assaults of the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange Act in Arizona." He was referring to the Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act, the provision paved the way for the development at Oak Flat.

Despite its high-profile sponsor, S.2242 has not received a hearing in the Senate, and H.R.2811, remains in limbo in the House. The bills are not likely to gain traction because most of Arizona's Congressional delegation has supported the controversial mine.

Two of those members -- Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona), who is running for Senate -- have even been trying to prevent the inclusion of Oak Flat on the National Register of Historic Places even though such a designation would not rescind the rider. At their insistence, the National Park Service extended a comment period on the proposal but that ended on Friday.

"Federal policies must change for us and all Americans in this country in order to secure the future for those yet to be born," Nosie said. "We must not lose these holy places, for they are the fabric of who we are to Mother Earth.”

Federal Register Notice:
National Register of Historic Places; Notification of Extension of Comment Period for Pending Nomination of Chi'chil Bildagoteel (Oak Flats) Historic District (February 29, 2016)

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