Late Thursday evening, on October 28, a representative of the Apache Stronghold found three of the four crosses of an Apache holy ground toppled and found ceremonial eagle feathers left lying on the ground.
This a repeat of the same action that took place on March 17, 2018.
The Apache Stronghold is demanding an immediate response from the U.S. Forest Service and law enforcement officials and is asking local and national leaders to condemn this hate crime and to help ensure that it does not happen again. Law enforcement has been called on to investigate the action and pursue those responsible for this targeted crime towards the Apache people and their religious practices.
"We gather at this site for blessings and healings, it is our Church, "said Dr. Wendsler Nosie, Sr., an Apache Stronghold leader and a former San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman. "This is the second time that we are seeing this level of violence against us here, we need more protection."
The Tonto National Forest is the land manager of Oak Flat which is supposed to be protected by the U.S. Government by Treaty with the Apache People. It is also supposed to be protected under various laws, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
It is still unclear whether damage or vandalism has also occurred to other sites at Oak Flat, especially those sites newly exposed after this summer's fire.