Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sandra Rambler at Oak Flat: The Gift of Water and the Apache Burden Basket

Apache elders, Isabelle Sisto Margie Curley joining the encampment at Oak Flat in Arizona where Indigenous Peoples are also gathered to oppose the $64.1 billion mine desecrating sacred and holy ancestral Apache land. Photo Sandra Rambler
Traditionally Speaking
Article and photos by Sandra Rambler, San Carlos Apache
Censored News
There are some things in life that we take granted for.  We think that things will always stay the same and we don’t quite adapt to change very well.  There are so many areas that this could be applied to, but I will point out one particular area that was so visible.
The birds chirping in the air was just as refreshing as the sounds of words and laughter coming from our Apache youth.  They had just been given a tour at Chi’Chil’Bilda’Goteel (Oak Flat).  They were full of life and energy.  
Just down the road from there sits Gaan Canyon.  As you enter into the canyon, the drilling equipment is an eye sore as work is in process.  As you drive below into the canyon, there sits a puddle of what use to be crystal clear water that was used by our ancestors.  This water now looks like a puddle of black gravy.  I felt like what it might be like to have someone take a large blade and cut right through your heart!  It made me so sick.

Once the water is contaminated, it starts to affect the entire community that it serves.  So the mine that Resolution Copper wants to build at Oak Flat will need about 6,000,000,000 (billion) gallons of water a year to operate the mine that will be the size of Shglaa’sha (Mount Turnbull).  The area is so deep that no humans will be able to work in that type of heat so ROBOTS will be used to electronically operate the mine!  
The Gilson Wash District is just about 11 miles away from Oak Flat and when more water is needed, more than likely, it will begin from there once Resolution Copper runs to the Congress and Senate and demands for additional water if the water from the Central Arizona Project is not enough.  Arizona is dry!
When the water is contaminated, it causes a deadly disease and we know that CANCER KILLS.  How much more do we need to say to oppose what is happening right before our very eyes?
A message is being sent throughout the world.  The Apaches are not giving up!  We have tribal members still occupying Oak Flat and some of us are physically there when we are able to, but we are always spiritually present through our prayers!
A grassroots organization, “Apache Stronghold,” was started to help with our local communication with our tribal members and neighbors to let them know about the repercussions from the mine and what travesties it will cause.
Sam Walsh, a Resolution Copper conglomerate, was recently presented with an Apache burden basket.  My question is, who made it?  Where did it come from?  When was it made? How much did it cost? Is there any way to find out the authenticity of this Apache burden basket that is now in the possession of Resolution Copper and is now probably in Australia?  Does Mr. Walsh really know where this Apache burden basket actually came from?  I bet he would be interested to find out the real truth behind that Apache burden basket.  Maybe then, he will return the Apache burden basket back to the property of the San Carlos Apache Tribe!
Even on the radio station, “Native America Calling,” in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recently, a tribal member said that “she” was given blessings by tribal members to do what?  Fight against us, her own Apache People?  And bring the DEADLY DISEASE OF CANCER to us?  I’m concerned because I am an elder myself and worried about my grandchildren and great-grandchildren that are yet to be born.  I consider myself a traditional Apache and I was raised in this manner.  And for this very young individual to say that she was raised to believe Oak Flat is not sacred is very disrespectful and I couldn’t believe it she said that to listeners in several states.
For one thing, water is sacred to us.  Water is life.  It provides for all living things including ourselves as humans.  I have a special connection to this holy place.  My granddaughter’s coming of age puberty rite dance was held at Oak Flat and this will always be dear to me.  I have a great-great-grandmother buried there at Oak Flat.  And what will Resolution Copper do?  Demolish her
remains with no respect at all for our ancestors?  This is exactly what they will do with no shame and regard for us as Apaches!
This is why I speak out.  This is why I say what is on my mind.  This is why I travel with our tribal elders and family to Oak Flat to pray and to enjoy the environment of what our ancestors fought for and died for.  Like my grandmother once told me, “You were born an Apache!  You will die an Apache!”
I am blessed that my first language was Apache!  I am blessed to come from such rich traditions such as our language, our songs, our stories and our beliefs!  
Thank you to all those who have been there helping with our spiritual march to Oak Flat and for those who are still there.  This fight began hundreds of years ago when the White Man first took the life of our Apache for greed and power, taking our minerals that included copper, gold, zinc, peridot, etc., and sold it to make a profit for themselves!  History is repeating itself and so it is in other tribal lands throughout Indian Country!  It’s not just happening to the San Carlos Apaches, it’s happening all over!
Somehow, somewhere we have to unite.  We need to get our waters tested!  We need experts to help us!  We need the continued support of our Apaches and also ask for your prayers.
I might be criticized.  I might be ridiculed.  I might be made fun of.  But you know what?  That won’t stop me because regardless, I will still be standing there fighting for all of our Apaches and Indigenous Peoples throughout the world!
I thank Creator God for making me an Apache! Ahi’yihe! Ashoong!
Happy birthday to my nieces, Sonya Gayle Rambler, Lois Lorenzo, my grandson, Deshawn Brown and my daughter, Ranayia Kaye Kitcheyan.  May Creator God bless you always.

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