Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 13, 2022

Federal Report Supports Saving Oak Flat: New BLM Report Exposes Devastation

Photo by Steve Pavey

Federal report supports saving Oak Flat 

New Bureau of Land Management report exposes planned devastation of culture, water, and environment 

By Apache Stronghold

Censored News


WASHINGTON – A new federal report by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management details the  cultural and environmental threats posed by the Biden Administration’s plan to transfer Oak Flat to  a foreign-owned mining company.

The report adds even more evidence supporting tribal members’  effort to defend their sacred religious site in Apache Stronghold v. United States, a case currently at the  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  

“Oak Flat is the place where Apache have connected with our creator since time immemorial” said  Dr. Wendsler Nosie, Sr. of Apache Stronghold. “This new report further validates what we have  been saying all along: giving Oak Flat away to Resolution Copper will destroy the land we depend  upon for our most important religious practices.” 

For over six decades, Oak Flat has been protected by the federal government for mining and other  practices that would render the hallowed land unusable for the Apache’s religious practices. But in  2014, the federal government proposed transferring Oak Flat to Resolution Copper, a foreign owned mining company that plans to turn the sacred site into a two-mile-wide and 1,100-foot-deep  crater. This past June, two judges at the Ninth Circuit refused to protect Oak Flat and Apache  Stronghold from this destruction of culture, tradition, and worship.

The full Court is now holding a  vote on whether to rehear the case in the coming weeks.  

“We are glad to see the Bureau of Land Management recognizing the disastrous effects of this  proposed land transfer,” said Dr. Nosie. “It’s time for our sacred land to be protected and for the  United States to honor its Treaty obligations and its promise of religious freedom for all.”  

Censored News:

Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, responding to today's news, said, "This is the prayers from the ancestors, to protect the lands, plants, animals, and all water and air."

Resolution Copper Plans to Cover Ancient O'odham Community with Mine Tailings by Ofelia Rivas, Traditional and Ceremonial O'odham

Gila Herald: BLM calls for new environmental study for Oak Flat

Apache Stronghold Additional Information:  

• Case Page: Apache Stronghold v. United States 

• Legal Doc: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s Opinion in Apache Stronghold v. United  States (June 24, 2022) 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219. Interviews  can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. 

Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United  States Supreme Court. For over 25 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus,  Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more here).

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