Oak Flat is gearing up for a visit on March 13 from Jane Sanders, wife of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
She is scheduled to visit the site in the Tonto National Forest at 4 p.m. and meet with the camped-out activists known as Apache Stronghold, the group protesting the handover of the sacred site to Resolution Copper Co. in a land swap at late last year. Senator Sanders, D-Vermont, co-sponsored the Save Oak Flat bill, which was introduced in June 2015.
The bill is currently languishing in Senate Natural Resources Committee, whose chair is Senator Lisa Murkowsky, Apache Stronghold noted in a statement.
Besides meeting with Apache Stronghold members, Jane Sanders will spend time with tribal leaders, elders and members, and reporters, “to highlight the need to get this bill out of the Republican controlled committee,” the group said.
"I am so excited that Mrs. Sanders has committed to visit Oak Flat to discuss the occupation by the Stronghold," said San Carlos Tribal Council member Wendsler Noise Sr. in the group’s statement. "Federal policies must change for us and all Americans, in order to secure the future for those yet to be born. We must not lose these holy places, for they are the fabric of who we are to Mother Earth."
The recent designation of Oak Flat as a National Historic Place could slow down the plan to turn parts of Tonto National Forest into a copper mine, but the fate of that move hangs in the balance.