Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 24, 2023

Salt River O'odham Protecting O'odham Burial Grounds at Oak Flat

Salt River O'odham Marina Thomas' sacred run to Oak Flat brings her to protect historic O'odham burial places, now targeted as a waste dumping site by Resolution Copper, which intends to destroy sacred Oak Flat with a copper mine.

By O'odham Piipaash Alliance
Censored News

Marina Thomas, an O’odham woman from Salt River, Arizona, concluded her spiritual run to move home to Oak Flat, Arizona and assert her inherent right to live on her ancestral land.

On May 14, 2023, Marina Thomas, a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community, completed a spiritual run from Salt River to Oak Flat, which she began May 11th. She covered a distance of roughly 60 miles by foot, being carried by prayers and the determination to fight for her right as an Indigenous woman to live on her territory without the threat of mining.

Her run was a spiritual journey that connected her to her ancestors and the land. Oak Flat has been threatened by a proposed copper mine, which would destroy the sacred site and cover historical O’odham remnants and burial grounds with waste tailings consisting of over 1.7 billion tons of toxic slurry. Marina Thomas's presence at Oak Flat is a powerful statement that her people will not be displaced or silenced. Her decision to live at Oak Flat is a bold step in asserting her inherent right to live and be an Indigenous person, which is recognized by international laws like UNDRIP.

"As a mother, I feel that those in charge are not making decisions with our children in mind. My journey to Oak Flat is a reaction to my responsibility as an O’odham mother,” Thomas said.

Marina Thomas's journey is a testament to the resilience and determination of Indigenous People to protect their lands and culture. This action should be recognized as a message to the mining company and the U.S. government that the land is sacred and must be protected, as Indigenous people - we are the land, and this is our say so. This right should be recognized like it was prior to the corruption brought on by Resolution Copper, Rio Tinto, John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Ann Kirkpatrick.

For more information, contact:

Let Our Ancestors Rest
O’odham Piipaash Alliance

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