Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 13, 2016

Gosar's Latest Attack on Apache Stronghold

Apaches defend ceremonial grounds of Oak Flat from copper mine

United States Congress
United States Senate and U.S. House of Representatives
East Capitol St NE and First St SE
Washington, DC 20004

From Wendsler Nosie, Sr.
Apache Stronghold
Senators and Representatives,
March 8, 2016
submit this letter to call on the protection of our religious rights as indigenous people and the
protection of Oak Flat and all sacred sites.
RecentlyRep. Paul Gosar has been escalating his attacks on the San Carlos Apache Tribe, spreading misinformation and outrageous prejudice against our people and our religious practice.
As a Representative of the U.SCongressGosar has failed to protect our rights as humans, our rights to exercise our religion as God made us to be. He has done all that he can to support the destruction of our holy place that is so intricately part of who we are as a people.
Oak Flatknown to us Chi'chil Bildagoteelhas always been our connection to our Mother, our right to exist, a central part of our prayers, songsstories and spiritual practices. It is from here that we emerged. It is who we are.
We have lost so much. So many of our peoplethe original people of this land, have been wiped outand those that remained were removedexiledfrom our indigenous lands and placed in concentration camps.
Chi'chil Bildagoteel, our holy land was put under the care of the U.Sgovernmentand because of its uniqueness, the great value of maintaining its ecological and cultural integrityprotected 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.SCongress
eliminates these protections.
For more than a decade, strong united opposition to legislation that would transfer Oak Flat to Resolution Copper, prevented Congress from acting on it. So the Arizona representatives
circumvented the process with a last-minute amendment to a must pass National Defense Authorization Act in December of 2014.
So one year ago we began a spiritual journeyalong with our elders and childrento express and exercise our religious rights at Oak Flat. To prayconduct our ceremonial dancesand
other spiritual practices. We have remained present there ever since.
And we will not leave.
We have the support of hundreds of tribal leadersAnd we call on ali Americans to join us.

Our Mother is threatenedIt is our legalmoraland spiritual duty -- our right -- to protect Her from destruction. From irreparable damage at the hands of Resolution Copper. Not just for us,
but for all Americans in this countryand for those yet to be born.
Last week, despite Rep. Gosar's repeated attempts to thwart this designationthe Nationa Park Service announced that it has listed Oak Flat on the National Register of Historic Places,
as Chi'chil Bildagoteel Historic Districtgiving weight to its importance as a site of cultural significance.
StillRep. Gosaris pressuring the Forest Service to enforce its rules that limit camping at Oak
Flat to 14 consecutive daysrules 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 an effort to restore the will of the peoplelarge bi-partisan coalition of Members of
Congress led by Rep. Raul Grijalva and SenBernie Sanders have introduced the Save Oak
Flat Act, (H .R. 2811 and S2242) to repeal the land transfer and reestablish its protection for
future generations. The House bill has 42 co-sponsors the Senate bill has 3.
However, Sen. John McCain and RepGosar have been blocking the bills from being assigned
to committee. It is vital that we continue to push for vote on these billsto correct not only an
injustice to Native Americansbut also to the American people.
have come to learn by traveling the country and meeting vast numbers of people who now
occupy Americathat we are not the only ones who live in exilein bondage to greed and
exploitation. have witnessed that many who live in towns and cities across the continent also
experience similar hardships because they do not have a voice in what truly matters.
Federal policies must change for us and all Americans.
The federal government has failed to protect or religious rights, our intimate connection to our
Mother EarthWe assert our right to continue exercising our religious rights and protecting Her
from destruction.
And we invite all Tribal leaders and representativesall our relativesand all children of the
earth to join us on this sacred journey.
The future of those yet to be born depends on it.
Wendsler NosieSr.
Apache Stronghold

No comments: