CPT – Turtle Island Solidarity Network members are accompanying Apache Stronghold in prayer and action to protect the sacred land of Oak Flat (Chi’chil Biłdagoteel) in Arizona, USA. Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of foreign mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP, plans to mine for copper in a way that would turn Oak Flat into a 2-mile wide, 1000-foot deep sinkhole, destroying precious water sources, ancient oak trees, traditional Apache religious ceremonial sites and medicinal plants, and the place where their spiritual guardians (angels) reside.
Apache Stronghold’s lawsuit to block the U.S. government from handing over Oak Flat to foreign mining interests is currently under consideration by an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case claims that destroying Oak Flat would violate their religious rights as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
For the Apache, holy places are not confined within the four walls of a church, mosque, temple or synagogue. Their cathedral is among the ancient oaks that hold their arms open in blessing, the plants that provide medicine and food for their ceremonies, and the canyons that hold centuries of healing prayers for their people.
A federal court recently ruled that Resolution Copper could join the United States government in the lawsuit to defend its “private, profit-oriented” interest in the case. Apache Stronghold leader, Wendsler Nosie, responded to this development, saying:
“Now it’s official. The United States Government has allowed two powerful foreign mining companies to battle the oldest religion in North America (Turtle Island). This is clearly seen as an invasion allowed by the United States… What this tells me is that the United States and Congress, who are responsible for controlling the resources of this country…want to enrich this foreign corporation…and ungoverned corporate greed. We call on all Americans to join us to protect the land, water, and religion, against this foreign invasion.”
In this crucial time, may we unite our prayers and spiritual intentions with Apache Stronghold:
PRAYER FOR OAK FLAT
Oh God, we lament the U.S. government’s failure to protect the land and safeguard all people’s right to practice religion freely. We lament the U.S. government’s violation of its own environmental protection precedents and treaty laws.
In this time when religious leaders are calling on all people to care for our common home, the Earth, and protect all life, hear us as we unite in solidarity to protect Oak Flat (Chi’chil Biłdogoteel).
We pray that political leaders summon the courage to deny foreign interests who would desecrate and devastate the land and water.
Protect our spiritual leaders and their families as they speak and act to save Oak Flat. Give them the words necessary to transform opponents into allies. Grant them the strength to lead with wisdom in the pursuit of justice.
Open our ears to the pleas of Apache Stronghold, and our hearts to the importance of sacred land. Remind us that all our lives depend on the health of the land and spirit.