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White House Responds to ‘Stop Apache Land Grab’ Petition

Jodi Gillette responds to the overwhelming support for the White House Petition “Stop Apache Land Grab.”
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When the announcement of a package granting a Resolution Copper, foreign mining company, to illegally take land near the San Carlos Apache Tribe was quietly attached to the National Defense Authorization Act a petition was immediately created in an effort to stop the procedure.

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

The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2015 became law on December 19.

The petition on the White House website was created December 4 and to date has 104,646 signatures in support of the conservation advocates and American Indian groups who don’t want to see culturally sensitive areas like Apache Leap in the Tonto National Forest near Superior, Arizona damaged.

RELATED: 57 Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Urge Senate to Nix Sacred Land Giveaway

The overwhelming support of the online petition has generated a response from Jodi Gillette, Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs, who initially sent thanks for the petition.

In her response she reiterated Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s statement following the passage of the NDAA, “I am profoundly disappointed with the Resolution Copper provision, which has no regard for lands considered sacred by nearby Indian tribes.”

Gillette also said that the legislation “short circuits the long-standing and fundamental practice of pursuing meaningful government-to-government consultation with the 566 federally recognized tribes with whom we have a unique legal and trust responsibility.”

Gillette’s response said the time to appropriately honor that relationship would have been before legislating issues of this magnitude. The hidden legislation significantly weakens the environmental assessment generally required by the National Environmental Protection Act Gillette said.

In closing she hopes the Obama Administration would work with Rio Tinto (Resolution Copper’s parent company) to find ways to work with tribes and to preserve the sacred areas.