APACHES HIT U.S. AGENCY FOR LETTING COPPER MINE INTO THEIR LAND
The US Forest Service released an environmental review that paves the way for the creation of one of the largest copper mines in the United States, against the wishes of Apaches who have been trying for years to stop the project, Felicia Fonseca reported for the Associated Press (AP).
The Forest Service now has 60 days to turn over a tract of land in Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix to Resolution Copper Mining, a joint venture of the international mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP.
Environmentalists contend the Forest Service was pressured to push the review over the finish line before President Donald Trump leaves office, complicating their efforts to reverse the land swap. The Forest Service said that’s not true, while the mining company contends the publication already was delayed by months.
The mountainous land near Superior, Arizona, is known as Oak Flat or Chi’chil Bildagoteel.
It’s where Apaches have harvested medicinal plants, held coming-of-age ceremonies and gathered acorns for generations.
An area where dozens of warriors leapt to their deaths from a ridge adjacent to the proposed copper mine, rather than surrender to US forces during westward expansion, is protected as a special management area.
A judge late Thursday denied a request from Apache Stronghold, a group led by former San Carlos Apache Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr., to halt the publication until a larger question over who legally owns the land is settled.
Nosie’s group alleged violations of religious freedom and constitutional rights in the federal lawsuit filed this week. It also contends the Forest Service legally can’t transfer the land because it belongs to Apaches under an 1852 treaty.
Nosie said he’s hopeful the court or politicians will take action to preserve the area as it is. “I think with a new Congress, new administration, they will be able to take a new look at it based on the Constitution, our religion and based on the consequences of having this mine that’s looking to devastate and destroy this area forever,” Nosie told AP.
WEEKLY FEATURE : JOSE MARI CHAN AND THE CHRISTMAS ANTHEM