Congress may be about to trade Federal public land in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest that includes a sacred Native American site to a subsidiary of the giant Australian mining company Rio Tinto for copper mining:
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Saturday criticized a last-minute addition to a major defense policy bill that would hand 2,400 acres of land in Arizona to an Australian mining corporation.
But the land also includes sites sacred to the San Carlos Apache tribe, including Apache Leap, where warriors once leapt to their deaths rather than being killed or captured by U.S. troops moving west through the frontier.
The proposed land exchange had failed several times before, including once in 2013 when House Republicans scheduled a vote while Native American leaders were meeting with White House officials in Washington. Tribal activists pressured lawmakers into spiking the vote.
But it returned again this week, in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass bill that sets the nation’s defense policy.
This is a yet another demonstration that Federal abuses of the Native American people are still ongoing (and Native interests and voices are still callously disregarded), rather than such treatment being some relic of a harsh but distant past. Interior Secretary Jewell called the provision “profoundly disappointing.”
Activists have launched an official WhiteHouse.gov Petition called Stop Apache Land Grab in an effort to get the provision removed.