Blue Frog Productions LLC/YouTube
Resolution Copper Co., a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, wants to mine this sacred landscape.

Video: What Resolution Copper Wants to Inflict on Apache Sacred Land


The San Carlos Apache Tribe is battling to save a sacred site that has been federally protected from mining since 1955.

That is, until now. Lawmakers have slipped a clause into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow for a land swap, giving Resolution Copper Inc. 2,400 acres of copper-containing land in return for 5,300 acres of substandard land scattered throughout southeast Arizona.

Problem is, it lies right on a scenic—and did we mention sacred?—recreation area set aside by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who specified that it be protected from mining: Oak Flat, Devil's Canyon, and Apache Leap. It is not only sacred to the San Carlos Apaches and related tribes but also would be subject to a technique called block cave mining. This method involves removing underground rock, thus creating the potential for a cave-in or landslide, as occurred last year at a Resolution Copper-controlled mine in Utah. In other words, it could completely destroy the site as well as crucial wildlife habitat, opponents say.

RELATED: San Carlos Apache Would Get Biggest Shaft Ever in Copper Mine Land Swap

The land-swap attempt has been floating around for a few years now, but the defense bill tactic could push it through. This short film profiles the area, the reasons that Eisenhower designated it as protected, and the potential outcome if the mining project is allowed to go forward.

In addition the production company posts updates on the case on its YouTube page. The latest salvo, which is Republican Senator John McCain’s insertion of the swap into the defense bill, has its counterpoint in the recent nomination of Oak Flat for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

A White House petition begun by San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler has garnered 49,468 as of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday December 10. It needs 50,532 more to reach the petitioners’ goal of 100,000 by January 3, 2015.

RELATED: Re: Raiding Native Sacred Places in a Defense Authorization: Everything Wrong with Congress

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

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nicolenesberg's picture
Submitted by nicolenesberg on
Hi ICTMN - I started the online petition. When you go to under signatures it says 'Creator' N.N. Gainesville, FL. That would be me Nicole Nesberg. I hope it elicits the desired response! Stop the giving of this land away - get it officially protected in perpetuity.

Joe Arias Jr
Joe Arias Jr
Submitted by Joe Arias Jr on
there selfishness and greed should not be tolerated by any court system

Joe Arias Jr
Joe Arias Jr
Submitted by Joe Arias Jr on
there selfishness and greed should not be tolerated by any court system

John Schnaubelt
John Schnaubelt
Submitted by John Schnaubelt on
If you think the moribund Bureau of Indian Affairs isn't still in the practice of selling off what little bit of land (<2%) it holds "in trust" for Native Americans, think again. I only became aware of this a week ago, but the article about the 57 affiliated tribes of the northwest (also on ICTMD) really caught my attention... and went into a good deal of depth and gives more details than other stories I've read. Just as this story does. What really piqued my interest, and I'm sure that of my friend and co-founder of, Judge Harold Lee, is the headline lead of "57 Affiliated Tribes..." And for those of you that know me, and the ethos concerning the ongoing genocide of the 566 individual Native American pawns, er, tribes, that "we the people" recognize today, it's just a little comforting to know that 10% of the tribes have come together... self-determined... and created some sort of synergy, and a voice, even if just regional... it's a start. 55M acres is all the tribes have left. Forget about their $30B a year gambling monopoly in states like my home in AZ, or the $3B annual budget of the BIA, this isn't about money. It's about the tribes coming together and telling Congress that we, the Natives of this Land, are competent today, we understand the ways and means of land ownership, the responsibility of maintaining our heritage, traditions, social and religious beliefs and systems. We, the Native American tribes, demand fee simple title to our ancestral lands, we demand that the patently offensive Indian Removal Act be repealed and stuck from the record of one of America's darkest and most shameful hours. And what's going on here with the 2400 acres in Arizona... obviously is nothing short of genocide. The systematic and continued destruction of a Native American's culture if not people. I say let them own their land. It's their right. They owned it all before we got here. Native Americans are certainly more competent to manage their own trust responsibility than the corrupt, fraudulent and criminal Bureau of Indian Affairs... or ANY government agency for that matter. Congress, the president, or the judicial branches of our federal government... any one of them could pave the way for handing off the BIA's responsibility to a federation of the nationally recognized tribes. IF they want to squander that land, that's also their right, just as it is for you and I. If they want to sell it to a foreign corporation to mine for copper and destroy more than just land in the process, then let 'em. That's their right too. But this story is the perfect, timely and most current example of why the exists. This simply must be the last generation of BIA-interred "Indians".