Senator John McCain (R-AZ) last week led House Republicans to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, and quietly snuck in a rider that will hand over 2,400 acres of Apache ceremonial and ancestoral land to a foreign mining company.
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees included the provision to the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015″ (NDAA). It calls for the transfer of a large tract of land in the Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tinto, which (along with Iran) owns an African uranium mine and which is 10-percent-owned by China.
Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, spoke out against the legislation.
“Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland. We’ve had dancers in that area forever – sunrise dancers – and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off from the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas.”
Rambler also expressed concern about the long-term consequences of abuse of his homeland, including the corporation’s intention to utilize “block cave” mining, which means digging under the ore, eventually causing large surface areas to collapse into sinkholes.
“What those mountains mean to us is that when the and the snow comes, it distributes it to us. It replenishes our aquifers to give us life.”
In years past, GOP lawmakers have attempted to transfer of this land, but always encountered strong opposition from Democratics and the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency only has jurisdiction over federally owned land. Once the government gift-wraps that to a foreign agent, anything is fair game.
The NDAA will now go to Senate for vote, as early as this week. There is an online petition available for people who wish to protest the Apache land grab.