Center for Political Awareness

Can a Tribe’s Religious Freedom Claims Halt a Major Copper Mine?

“Oak Flat is like Mount Sinai to us—our most sacred site where we connect with our Creator.” (Click image for article.)

Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Getty/Grist

 

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stop the construction of a copper mine in Arizona on land sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe as well as other Indigenous nations. Chí’chil Biłdagoteel, also known as Oak Flat, sits atop the third largest copper deposit on the planet and is essential to green energy projects. The operation, which will be run by Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP, will leave a crater nearly 1,000 feet deep and 2 miles wide.

“Oak Flat is like Mount Sinai to us—our most sacred site where we connect with our Creator, our faith, our families and our land,” said Wendsler Noise of Apache Stronghold, a nonprofit fighting to protect the area. “We vow to appeal to the Supreme Court.” 

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