Courtesy of Apache Stronghold
Wendsler Nosie, Sr. leads Apache Stronghold members in a march.
Republican Congressman Paul Gosar is going nuclear at news that Oak Flat will remain listed in the National Register of Historic Places, despite attempts by himself and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
, a Democrat who alleges to stand by Native Americans, to withdraw the site from historic consideration.
The pair argued listing Oak Flat as a historic place would continue to sabotage plans by Resolution Copper to begin work on its controversial mine.
In a press release, Gosar alleges
Oak Flat has never been a sacred site. And, according to a letter by former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Nation and organizer of the group Apache Stronghold Wendsler Nosie, Sr., Gosar is pressuring the National Forest Service to kick out members of the Apache Stronghold
, as well as allies, who have occupied the area since the site was sold out to the mining company.
Gosar says in a press release that he is disappointed Oak Flat was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, "despite multiple bipartisan requests to withdraw the fundamentally-flawed nomination."
Shame on the Park Service and Forest Service for ramming a bogus historic place listing down the throats of Arizonans. Clearly, the Obama Administration cares more about pandering to extremist environmental groups and a D.C. lobbyist from the Clinton Administration than following the law and listening to the American public. Oak Flat has never been a sacred site, as confirmed by the local tribe’s own former historian. Yet, Obama’s minions are hell-bent on sabotaging an important mining effort by listing a small, public campground 20 miles away from the nearest tribe’s reservation as a historic site.
Gosar says the community in Superior, located roughly 4 miles from Oak Flat, is in dying need of good-paying jobs and the proposed Resolution Copper
mine is the antidote.
A bipartisan Congress and the president have declared the land exchange for this copper mine to be the law of the land. That should have been the end of it. But blatantly deceitful collaboration that ignores the Rule of Law cannot be tolerated. This fraudulent action is the latest in a long list of egregious bureaucratic abuses of power by the Obama Administration. I will continue to fight this overreach.
Earlier this week, an email that seemed to be a personal exchange was distributed by the Center for Biological Diversity, saying Gosar was "leaning heavily" on the Forest Service to "crack down on the occupation at the campground."
...and they think some kind of action to remove them may be imminent, in which case they’ll need various kinds of support. I’m passing this along as a head’s up, same as I just got.
Nosie says in a letter that Gosar's attacks are nothing but misinformation and "outrageous prejudice against our people and our religious practice." He accuses Gosar of failing to protect the tribe's human rights and their First Amendment right to exercise their religion, and adds that Gosar has done all he can to destroy a holy place.
Oak Flat, known to us Chi’chil Bildagoteel, has always been our connection to our Mother, our right to exist, a central part of our prayers, songs, stories and spiritual practices. It is from here that we emerged. It is who we are.
We have lost so much. So many of our people, the original people of this land, have been wiped out, and those that remained were removed, exiled, from our indigenous lands and placed in concentration camps.
Chi’chil Bildagoteel, our holy land, was put under the care of the U.S. government, and because of its uniqueness, the great value of maintaining its ecological and cultural integrity, protected by its laws.
But now these laws are being subverted. The land handed over to foreign mining concerns through underhanded backroom deals by Arizona representatives in the U.S. Congress eliminates these protections.
In December 2014, Gosar, Kirkpatrick, and U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake added a last-minute amendment to a must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, giving away Oak Flat to Resolution Copper.
Apache Stronghold has occupied Oak Flat since.
Still, Rep. Gosar, is pressuring the Forest Service to enforce its rules that limit camping at Oak Flat to 14 consecutive days, rules that as indigenous people practicing our religion we are not subject to. The United States has legal and moral obligations to provide access to Native Americans and to protect these traditional territories.
In June of last year, Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva issued the Save Oak Flat Act
, which hoped to repeal the Resolution Copper deal and reestablish protection for Oak Flat. Vermont U.S. senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders introduced a similar bill in the Senate. However, McCain and Gosar have helped block the bills from moving forward, Nosie's letter says.