Great Plains Tribal Leaders' Letter Asks Congress to Strike Land Swap From Defense Bill

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The 16-member Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association has written to members of Congress and the U.S. government entreating them to strike a section of the National Defense Authorization Act that would give 2,400 acres of sacred Apache land in the Tonto National Forest to a mining company.

“This highly controversial provision has no place in this must-pass defense authorization bill,” reads the December 8 letter signed by association Vice Chairman Robert Shepherd. “Section 3003 would transfer a place of worship held sacred by Arizona tribes to a foreign-owned mining company for a copper mine that will forever destroy the tribes’ religious practices. The proposal will irrevocably harm the region’s water supply and quality.”

Moreover, the letter notes, “The earmarked foreign beneficiary—Rio Tinto PLC through its subsidiary Resolution Copper—has refused to cut its ties to the Iran Foreign Investment Corporation in a Namibian uranium mine.”

They join San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler in entreating that the land be preserved, not just for indigenous rights but also for everyone.

RELATED: San Carlos Apache Leader Seeks Senate Defeat of Copper Mine on Sacred Land

Re: Raiding Native Sacred Places in a Defense Authorization: Everything Wrong with Congress

Rio Tinto PLC is based in the United Kingdom, while Resolution Copper’s other co-parent is BHP Billiton Ltd of Australia. The public lands in question were specifically designated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955 as not to be mined.

RELATED: Video: What Resolution Copper Wants to Inflict on Apache Sacred Land

The full letter is below, or linkable at Indianz.com.

Courtesy Michael Meuers

Members of the The Red Lake Youth Council Mathew Antone, Anthony Benais, and Breanna Johnson give a report to the Tribal Council on their activities.

Courtesy Michael Meuers

Members of the The Red Lake Youth Council Mathew Antone, Anthony Benais, and Breanna Johnson give a report to the Tribal Council on their activities.

Courtesy Michael Meuers

Members of the The Red Lake Youth Council Mathew Antone, Anthony Benais, and Breanna Johnson give a report to the Tribal Council on their activities.