Can you imagine the hue and cry, if land belonging to a Christian church was stolen for a rapacious international mining company to bleed it dry? Or the grounds of a synagogue? Even a mosque? We didn’t hear that noise because the site in question is one held sacred by American Indians. We didn’t hear that noise because Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake slipped the giveaway into the National Defense Authorization Act at the last minute.
But President Obama has heard the noise made by the San Carlos Apache tribe and their supporters. And he has acted. Through the Parks service, as is his right, Obama designated Oak Flats a historical district. This will end McCain and Flake’s efforts to strip the sacred grounds for cash.
Early last year, 300 members of the Apache tribe occupied the site in protest against the portended sale of the land to Resolution Copper Mining. Resolution is, in turn, owned by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, who mine land around the Oak Flats area. They have coveted the Apache land for years. Senators McCain and Flake and Rep. Paul Gosar have been working for over a decade to get the 2,400-acre site for Rio Tinto, an Australian-British mining company, so that it can be mined with no oversight. It’s interesting to note that, before he became a Congressman, Flake was a paid lobbyist for a Rio Tinto subsidiary.
Rep. Gosar went ballistic when he found out about the new designation for the land, which has been sacred to the Apache since before recorded history. He issued this
tantrum statement on Friday:
Shame on the Park Service and Forest Service for ramming a bogus historic place listing down the throats of Arizonans. Clearly, the Obama Administration cares more about pandering to extremist environmental groups and a D.C. lobbyist from the Clinton Administration than following the law and listening to the American public. Oak Flat has never been a sacred site, as confirmed by the local tribe’s own former historian. Yet, Obama’s minions are hell-bent on sabotaging an important mining effort by listing a small, public campground 20 miles away from the nearest tribe’s reservation as a historic site.
Important mining effort? Really, Mr. Gosar? Or is it just the money that is important? I don’t know about you, but I find his declarations about Oak Flats to be suspect. In the face of reality, though, Tea Baggers like Gosar and his pal Ann Kirkpatrick, along with Sen. Flake and Sen. McCain, have no ground (sacred or otherwise) to stand on. The shame is that they almost got away with lying and trying to thwart the democratic process.
Thank you, Mr. Obama, for listening to the Native voices. Thank you for standing up to the international mining conglomerate and those who enable it. Thank you for saving the sacred ground.
Featured Image via Screen Capture