U.S. 9th Circuit Court Fails to Uphold Apache Freedom of Religion 

The ruling illustrates that the U.S. government is willing to sacrifice the religious liberty of its citizens for the profits of foreign mining corporations
CPTers march with Apache Stronghold at Oak Flat (Nov 2023)
CPT marches with Apache Stronghold at Oak Flat (Nov 2023) ©Molly Peters / Courtesy of the Apache Stronghold

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 6 to 5 against Apache Stronghold in their case for religious liberty.

“Oak Flat is like Mount Sinai to us—our most sacred site where we connect with our Creator, our faith, our families, and our land,” said Dr. Wendsler Nosie of Apache Stronghold. “Today’s ruling targets the spiritual lifeblood of my people, but it will not stop our struggle to save Oak Flat. We vow to appeal to the Supreme Court.” 

Apache Stronghold and their legal counsel’s release holds up the dissenting opinion:

“The decision was by a bare majority, with five judges vigorously disagreeing and writing that the majority “tragically err[ed]” in allowing the government to “obliterate Oak Flat” and prevent the “Western Apaches from ever again engaging in their religious exercise.”

The appeals court’s decision fails to block the U.S. government from trading sacred land acquired through genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Apache people in order to allow a foreign corporation to extract ore, contaminate the soil, dry up the water in a desert, and deny the first people of the USA their right to worship in the sacred presence of their God.

  • This ruling unmasks the fact that the U.S. government is unable and unwilling to protect the land from foreign interests who intend to export both their product and their profits, leaving nothing behind but obliterated communities.   
  • The ruling further illustrates that the U.S. government is willing to sacrifice the religious liberty of its citizens for the profits of foreign mining corporations.

We strongly encourage anyone who is concerned with government overreach, Indigenous sovereignty, religious liberty, environmental protection, national security, or basic fairness to sign this petition and to organize organizations and religious institutions to sign on to an amicus brief in support of Apache Stronghold’s continuing quest for justice at the Supreme Court of the United States.

 “The Spirit of God alive in each of us, and in the very land of Oak Flat, is stronger than the power of greed that is trying to destroy the sacred,” says CPT member Rev. Carol Rose.  “This is not the end.  We vow to continue to resist this injustice.”

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