SAN CARLOS APACHE MARCH TO OCCUPY OAK FLAT PROMISE A FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR HOLY GROUND FROM THE GREED OF McCAIN, KIRKPATRICK, FLAKE, GOSAR AND THE RESOLUTION COPPER MINE !
Campfire smoke is thick in the morning chill on Oak Flat in the lush 5000′ Arizona high country. Western Apache from all over the state have come together to “occupy” their ancestral homeland and the smell of breakfast drifts across the Flat as members of the San Carlos Apache, White Mountain, Yavapai and Tonto Tribes leave their
warm sleeping bags and meet up around the oak wood fire. There is little said about the planned Resolution Mine that will collapse this spot into a huge hole when their robots have undermined this land. President Eisenhower set aside this treasure by Presidential decree to save America’s unique wild places. Instead talk centers on happier days! Days spent with their mothers, fathers and grandparents, aunts and uncles, the kids and babies, as everyone scurried about harvesting the rich, sweet-tasting acorns which for centuries have been a delicacy of the Apache people and a centerpiece to their ceremonies marking each chapter of their lives, like joyous weddings.
Today some of those beloved relatives are now buried in Gann Canyon, their wakes and funerals where held here in the campground, acorn stew was boiled with meat, into a pancake batter like paste, and served honoring those who have now met their Creator. Many Apache Sunrise ceremonies are held here each summer to celebrate Apache daughters reaching womanhood, accented by the Apache Crown Dancers, twirling and funneling their prayers to God.
Today, Anthony Logan, an Apache medicine man will bless this holy ground beneath them and they will all dance to the drums and pray that God will answer their prayers.
Many will pray the Creator protect Oak Flat from the destruction set in motion by politicians, like Arizona Sen. John McCain, who behind their backs put a land swap into the “must pass” defense spending bill at midnight. The new Republican Senate then passed the $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015…89 to 11. Tucson representative Raúl Grijalva has called this “a grave injustice” and calls this “unjust legislation” be repealed, a motion supported by more than 70 Indian Tribes across the United States who now join him in demanding protection for Oak Flat. The Apache protest began in San Carlos last week when tribal members started a 50 mile march to their sacred holy ground two miles east of Superior, Arizona. In spite of a few blisters, they arrived more than 250 strong supported by Tribal members from all over the U.S.. They filled the campground and Anthony Logan, aka “Rolling Fox”, conducted the “Holy Ground Blessing” ceremony held beneath the mine shafts being constructed by Resolution, a British mining company who wants to undermine the mountain and collapse the entire sacred Mountain into the country’s third largest copper mine to sell the ore to China, leaving the Apache the hole and a compromised water supply. Apache drummers and singers performed sixteen songs blessing the sacred land
and dancers who came to take to back their ancestral land. After the ceremony, the Reverend John Mendez, an internationally recognized civil rights activist, told the crowd that the Apache spiritual movement would move “like a prairie fire”. The fire and brimstone preacher from Emmanuel Baptist Church in North Carolina told the mostly Native American audience, “they can’t stop you, when we unit”. “A people united won’t be stopped. We will not quit, there is nothing that can stop you.” Mendez closes in pray “Father we put all things in your hands, guide us.” “We have to stand up and fight Congress, laws can be made and laws can be changed! John McCain made a big mistake doing this to us said Terry Rambler, present Chairman of the San Carlos Tribe, who gave all tribal employee an administrative day off to join the March.
They put this (land swap) in behind our backs-then they stabbed us in the back.” God blesses the world–he put us here to protect the land and as
long as we put God first–he will fight for us. Apache people were taught to pray and only through prayer will we win. The white man came to America in search of religious freedom but still they deprive the Apache of what is his religious right.” “We are still prisoners-of war” said Wally Davis, chairman of the Tonto Apache speaking of how all Apache had historically been forced marched to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. “This is a message to all Native Americans.” “San Carlos is still a prison,” Davis said.
Apache Leap Mountain gains its name from the Pinal Apache Band who lived in these hills and valley, the rocks still carry rock drawing left from their dreams of successful hunts for deer and mountain sheep, game that filled their stomachs and fueled their children’s futures, their love of the land and their freedom. Fifty of the 1870 band died leaping from the ragged mountain edge as they were surrounded by the United States Cavalry who demanded they return to the reservation in San Carlos, or die by their sabers. They chose to leap instead knowing their God knew best how they should live and die.
Speaking in one voice for Native Americans everywhere, tribal members attended from all over the world and former San Carlos Apache chairman Wensler Nosie announced Thursday February 4th, 2015, to be a historic day as
the Apache once again took the field against the United States of America. “We were pushed here”, we used to roam the entire South West, but we were told to stay on the reservation and extermination was the response when we didn’t. The white man killed our ancestors, my great-grandparents, when they tried to continue their nomadic lifestyle! My mother told me, stay on the reservation-don’t bother those white people outside or they will hurt our people! That was a sickness pressed upon our people by the U.S. government, that ends today, says Nosie, “Today we pray to our God and through God we will win.” Nosie told the 250 people and media assembled outside the Tribal Administration building to begin their march to Apache Leap Mountain which towers over the Arizona community of Superior.
Their voices thundered with emotion Thursday as the San Carlos Apache prepared to march on Oak Flat the words spoken left no doubt that “greedy politicians”, like Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake Representatives Anne Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar, have worn out their welcome in San Carlos, Arizona or in Indian Country anywhere else in the United States. “The rape of Indian land stops today on this historic day. Oak Flat was a gift from God to the Apache people, may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie told the crowd. “We are spiritually guided today–indigenous people from all over the world are watching our fight”! If America is the World’s Policeman, and this under-handed maneuver is how they treat their native peoples, then what hope do native souls have anywhere.
“They think we are stupid, he said, “but our ancestors are smiling down on us and saying those our children — our educated children! “We want entitlement to our land and reservation, this is a day of healing and through prayer,
we are going to win this! Today we are bringing down the barriers imposed upon us and today we breakout, our children are strong and the abuse from the people outside (the reservation) ends today.
All 2,400 acres of the land swap are part of Apache ancestral and ceremonial lands. So although Republican lawmakers have tried for years to secure the transfer of these lands, they have always run into strong opposition from the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Democratic lawmakers and conservation advocates, so they stole it. If the legislation succeeds, it will allow Resolution Copper Mining Co. to exchange more than 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land it owns throughout Arizona for about 2,400 acres of federal land near Superior. The company would develop a 7,000-foot-deep mine there, opening the third-largest undeveloped copper resource in the world.
Councilman Fred Ferreiria from the San Carlos Peridot district says “they gave us this land because no one wanted it — they found minerals — and they took it. If we don’t stop it now — bit by bit they will take it all away again.” We learned the laws and how things are done, we were doing that, and the government broke the rules, we continue this fight, we are here today for our children.” “We have champions in Congress and they will help us “repeal this law” said Ed Norris, chairman of the Tohono Oodham.
The Tonto National Forest is this country’s fifth largest forest and has on average 5.8 million visitors annually.
It was set aside as a national forest back in 1905 in order to protect its watersheds around key reservoirs used by the people of the communities around it which include Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott, Snowflake, Winslow and the nearby Apache Reservations. The forest produces an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water each year feeding into Theodore Roosevelt Lake and the Salt River which bisects the national forest running east to west. In 1955 Eisenhower used Public Land Order 1229 to protect parts of Tonto National Forest from the mining industry that wanted to despoil it for profits. Thanks to the work of conservationists over the decades, without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful unspoiled areas this nation has left…
For 50 years Vonda Cassadore whose grandmother Josephine always brought them camping at Oak Flat, to the very campsite we enjoy today as they prepare breakfast for the Apache protestors. They had fun picking up the acorns and now Cassadore shares that experience with her little grand-daughter Amaee Talgo who is learning the art of baking bread. For today’s breakfast Vonda and her friend, Kris Salaloa, work together to fry bread and tortillas, Theresa Nosie is dishing out the biscuits and gravy, hash browns, bacon and sausage for the hungry, growing
camp of protestors. The Apache Way makes it’s grandma’s duty to teach her grandchildren the traditions of their people. “Since I was a little girl I came here with my mother and now I bring my grandkids says Salaloa, some of these trees are as old as I am and God knew what he was doing when he gave Apache acorns. For Cassadore, today’s memory of watching her mom sitting at the base of the Emory Oak shading them today is still quite vivid. “She would check to make sure we were okay and where we were, “making sure we didn’t get more acorns picked than she did”. Since I was age 3, I started picking up acorns and filling up coffee cans”, they always arrived in July before the monsoons came, the whole family came to pick, the babies would be hung in their cradle boards from the huge Emory Oaks while we searched for acorns. The acorns would be transferred to a glass jar with old levi’s wrapped around the glass and soaked in the cool stream to keep them fresh. Mom would let us run free here around “Grandmother’s Tree” where we camped while they picked plants for the burden baskets and medicinal plants. “Go to the new trees”, she would say, “they have the biggest acorns”.
“This is Apache territory and Oak Flat belongs to the Apache–they took it away from us and we must take it back says Chairman Terry Rambler. I am very proud of my ancestor’s “Apache Pride” we were supposed to be exterminated but we are here today, let’s take over Oak Flat, this is our time to be involved! Apache were slaughtered and killed here–we will fight for the blood of our ancestors. “The chairman continues saying San Carlos Tribal council went on record voting against any copper mine being built upon their land and notes the white people came to this land in search of religious freedom, fleeing persecution, they wanted “to have the ability to pray, we want the same freedom”.”Some people have to visualize something, like a church, a structure to express their love of God, Oak Flat is our church, it is no different today, today is about religious freedom, we need to keep our connection to our God.”
“Oak Flat is our high ground, our mountains are called “weather makers”, they attract snow, it melts and the water flows in the four sacred directions. It flows to the Gila River, Queen Creek, the Salt River it makes the water that flows to us–it is the giver of Life and when Resolution Mine drill a mile deep making a hole a thousand times the size of a professional football stadium, it will subside and cave in–it will change the water.” All our medicinal plants will go away… We followed all the rules for ten years, we were winning and they put in a rider which made it hard for the legislature to say no. So without public input they passed this bill…”
When thunderstorms hit in this region, the mountains are where water is deposited before it flows downward toward the streams, rivers, underground aquifers and lakes. The water from the Oak Flat area continues eastward underground and flows down from the Pinal Mountains into Gilson Wash, then into the San Carlos River onward to the Gila River before it reaches San Carlos Lake. Our water is precious and limited. Resolution Copper Company will poison our waters and drain our aquifers.
“We are not going to give up, it’s because of our children–our children’s children…we must fight this land deal!
White Mountain Apache Kay Lewis, a former tribal judge, wearing yellow pollen on his cheek noted Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick was raised on the WMA reservation where her father made his living from a Trading Post selling to the
Apache and “she should know better”. “I was surprised”, Lewis noted, Apache are Democratic voters and they supported Kirkpatrick in her last successful re-election.”She used the Apache! She should know the Apache values, traditions, customs and ceremonies and she did not speak up for the Tribe on this land. The Apache are really done with her !” Signs proclaims “AZ. TRIBES BEWARE OF KIRKPATRICK”, “DON’T UNDERMINE OUR SACRED LANDS”, black teeshirts say “PROTECT SACRED OAK FLAT”, “YOU CAN’T GIVE AWAY LAND THAT ISN’T YOURS TO GIVE” “SAVE,PROTECT AND OCCUPY OAK FLAT — NO LAND EXCHANGE, NO COPPER MINE !
Sandra Rambler says if bulldozers show up on Oak Flat, I will stand in front of them and “they can bulldoze me if they want…I am all in !” says the sister of Chairman Rambler.
“It will be a great devastation, I don’t want our ancestors graves disturbed, my daughter had her Sunrise Ceremony on Oak Flat, if these laws can be made and they can be changed! We want justice for the Apache people, we are educated not stupid, they brought us here and made promises now broken, we are too smart to let this happen again!” Rambler says. “I have ancestors who fought for the U.S. Army, who weren’t given the right to vote until 1948”, even though Native Americans were given the right to vote on June 2nd, 1924, but because of some state law, Indians were not allowed the vote until 1947 except for Arizona and New Mexico who finally dropped their prohibition in 1948 because of legal rulings. Three main arguments for Indian voting exclusion were Indian exemption from real estate taxes, maintenance of tribal affiliation and the notion that Indians were under guardianship, or lived on lands controlled by federal trusteeship.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar’s reference to American Indians as “wards of the federal government” following a discussion about the controversial Arizona land deal that opens the door for the country’s third largest copper mine. The Arizona Republican in responding to concerns from Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe when he made the comment that stunned people at a December round-table talk in Flagstaff, as well as Indians all across the United States.”He kind of revealed the truth — the true deep feeling of the federal government: ‘Tribes, you can call yourselves sovereign nations, but when it comes down to the final test, you’re not really sovereign because we still have plenary authority over you,'” Stago told The AP.
In 1978 Indians were given the right to express our religion through the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Aug. 11, 1978 a United States federal law, enacted by Congress to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. These rights include, access to sacred sites, freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rights, and use and possession of objects considered sacred. The Act required policies of all governmental agencies to eliminate interference with the free exercise of Native American religion, based on the First Amendment, and to accommodate access to and use of religious sites. It also acknowledges the prior violation of that right. Due to the complex nature of American Indian religious beliefs, American Indian religions have often been at odds with existing federal laws and government policies. There have been several areas of conflict. Firstly, American Indians did not have access to a number of sacred places that the tribes had traditionally used in religious ceremonies. Native American religious practices often came into conflict with the idea that American public lands exist for the use and benefit of the American people.
“You don’t get tired dancing, the drums put you into a meditative state.” The drum is like a heartbeat and it pushes you on”, says May Lenca, from western Honduras where her indigenous people live in the endangered rain forest. She is a spiritual person and came to Oak Flat to link spiritually with her Apache brothers and sisters. “John McCain has no heart, conscience or soul and he gave them up long ago for power, money and greed. You can’t do this if you have a heart ! “McCain is a lost soul.” We natives have joined together here, Lenca said. “We are all from the creator and we have to gather to protect Mother Earth.” “People can chose to be good”! The legislatures who did this – used to be people you could work with. But power corrupts and you have to learn to be humble with people.”
“We are a non-violent religious movement, said Wendsler Nosie at the conclusion of the Holy Ground Blessing.
“Today eagle feathers arrived here on foot, this is a spiritual gathering. The idea is to get here so the blessing can be given by God. We have arrived so God will have blessed us … we are all brothers and sisters here. Together we will protect our waters so we can continue to live as human beings. The Apache need to be afforded the same protection as all U.S. citizens — we Apache want the same rights afforded everyone else. This is a gift from God to help save the world may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie concludes.
Carrie Curley, age 26 is dancing with her aunt Margie Curley and says she is fighting for “my identity, our religion and our ancestral land”. Curley says every time she drives into the valley she stop at Oak Flat to pray. Her fondest memories are in Gann Canyon, where she prays thanking the good spirit for their land and to grace us with
his blessing. “The creator gave us land so they can’t take it away.” Margie remembers Oak Flat from her high school days where she attended high school there, her fondest memories of the Easter celebration celebrated by the much of the whole town who moves to Oak Flat over the Easter weekend-but as an Apache, she loves Oak Flat as “a holy land, a land of prayer.”
On a bronze plaque in front of the San Carlos Apache Administration building is written beneath the names of all the Apache who served as chairman or leaders of the San Carlos Tribe; it reads: “We remember those who sacrifice and defended our people–we recognize our great leaders and their respect for those who know freedom. We must guide our people to, once again, hold our destiny in our own hands, so I challenge each of us to overcome the oppression and begin the process of believing in ourselves. This must be the first step…
Usen, we ask for your blessing to guide our current and future leadership so that our children and the unborn will inherit our Apache Way of Life…..Wendsler Nosie Sr.
The Oak Flat Campground was set aside in 1955 by President Eisenhower in an effort to preserve special public lands from threats like mining and development. Since that time, thousands of visitors have enjoyed the wilderness.
Copper mining would shut out visitors to Oak Flat and allow international mining companies like Rio Tinto the power to disrupt the land by digging mine shafts, excavating minerals and carving roads through a once wild landscape. The tribes would be stripped of access to native and sacred lands to practice their religion, contrary to the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Block cave mining is a technique that involves drilling and blasting from underneath the copper ore body, creating an underground cavern. This method causes instability within the mine and at the surface, making it collapse. At the Henderson Mine near Empire, Colorado, an entire mountainside collapsed after undergoing block cave mining. At Oak Flat, this would put sensitive ecological areas and sacred tribal lands at risk and would change the landscape forever.
Former Republican Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi reported to a federal prison in West Virginia
to begin serving a three-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and 15 other convictions
including wire fraud, extortion and racketeering.
CONGRESSMAN Raúl M. Grijalva introduced the “Save Oak Flat Act,” to repeals a congressional giveaway of sacred Native American land to a Canadian company called Resolution Copper co-owned by multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto .
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