Stop the Mining of Sacred Tribal Land!

Stop the Mining of Sacred Tribal Land!

We need your immediate support to stop the proposed copper mining that would irreversibly desecrate lands sacred to Apache and other tribes and devastate the environment and health of the people in Superior, Arizona, and many other neighboring Arizona communities.


On July 24, 2007 Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced bill S. 1862, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2007, in the US Senate. A related bill, H.R. 3301, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Pastor (D-AZ) on August 1, 2007,.  The House bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), and John Shadegg (R-AZ). The proposed bills would, among other things, convey federally-owned land known as Oak Flat, Devils Canyon, and Apache Leap near Superior, Arizona, to Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of a multi-national mining corporation. The land sought by Resolution Copper is believed to have one of the largest copper deposits in the world and is worth an estimated $65 billion. That land, however, contains sites and artifacts that are of deep spiritual, cultural, and historic significance to the Apache and other tribes in the region. Further, Apache Leap is a breath-taking butte where Apache lookouts were once posted to warn of attacks by the US Cavalry and leapt to their deaths rather than be captured.

In order to obtain Oak Flat, Apache Leap, Devil’s Canyon and other areas from the Federal government, Resolution Copper plans to exchange it for other privately owned land; it has purchased seven parcels of land that conservation groups have been working to bring under federal protection for many years. These are the tracts of land that Resolution Copper is offering up in exchange for Oak Flat.  Organizations, such as the Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, and the Audubon Society, have consequently endorsed the land exchange but they may have been unaware of tribal and local opposition when they expressed their support.

Resolution Copper is responsible for other well-documented environmental and health devastation (in addition to the many disasters brought about by its parent company Rio Tinto all over the world), because of its use of acid to strip away layers of earth and rock.

The proposed mining at Oak Flat would:

  • Destroy, violate, and desecrate of land sacred to the Apache, Yavapai, Hopi, O’Odham tribes;
  • Cause disastrous environmental damage, contaminate scarce water supplies, destroy habitat for endangered species, and cause massive surface damage; and
  • Exacerbate health problems for surrounding communities.

In recognition of the irreversible long term effects of this type of mining, the City Council of Superior voted unanimously to oppose the bill.

Leaders of six different tribes in the region came together in a historic gathering to denounce the bill and stand in opposition to the land exchange. The stakes are high – the passage of the bill would establish a precedent, allowing private interests to seize land sacred to native peoples with impunity, contributing to the cultural extinction of Native Americans that began hundreds of years ago – solely for profit and at great cost to the people and the environment. However, if the bill is defeated, a different kind of precedent would be set for Native Americans’ rights to the preservation of their land, history, sacred and religious sites, and culture and traditions.

Take Action

Right now the San Carlos Apache Tribe is leading the opposition against the bills, and they are asking for urgent and immediate support. The bills are in the Senate and House committees – we must prevent them from being approved (marked up) by these committees, where they could be attached to other bills and passed on the Senate and House floors, and we have only a limited amount of time. Support the San Carlos Apaches and other tribes and the people of Superior by writing or calling your Congressional representatives, and letting them know that their constituents oppose these bills. Please send letters to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committees in addition to your own Senators and Representative. Sample letters are included below.

Please send copies of letters by email [], fax [856-881-2027 – subject: Sacred Site], or mail [c/o CYOC, 1213 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107]

Sample Letter # 1

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman, Chairman

United States Senate

Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Suite 130

625 Silver Avenue, SW 

Albuquerque, NM  87102

The Honorable Pete Domenici, Ranking Member

United States Senate

Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Albuquerque Plaza

201 3rd Street, NW Suite 710

Albuquerque, NM 87102

Dear Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Domenici:

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to bills S. 1862 and H.R. 3301, captioned the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2007.  These bills would allow for a land exchange between Resolution Copper and the United States Forest Service. The land exchange would convey lands to Resolution known as Oak Flat, Apache Leap, and Devil’s Canyon near Superior, Arizona, to build and construct an unprecedented block-caving mining operation.

The Oak Flat, Apache Leap, and Devil’s Canyon areas are ancestral lands of the Apache, Yavapai, Hopi, and O’Odham Native tribes.  The proposed mining would result in the destruction, violation, and desecration of these sacred lands. The land exchange would prevent these tribes from continuing important practices of religion and culture; and, once desecrated, they can never be restored.

Resolution Copper is a subsidiary of a foreign owned company, Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Biliton, Ltd – both of which have long and well-documented histories of environmental abuse all over the world. The proposed mining would deplete and contaminate already limited water resources in the area. The areas that would be conveyed to Resolution Copper also provides habitat for many different types of plants, animals, and songbirds.,.

The proposed land exchange is opposed by six tribes in Arizona, and unanimously opposed by the City Council of Superior because of short term and long term devastation to their people and future generations.,. We urge you to oppose S. 1862 and H.R. 3301 and any other legislation that would convey these sacred areas to mining interests. Please take action now to preserve the public interest of the people of Superior and the cultural and religious heritage of Native peoples.





Please send the same letter to the following in the House of Representatives:

House Chairman

The Honorable Nick J. Rahall, Chairman

U.S. House of Representatives

House Committee on Natural Resources

301 Prince St

Beckley, WV 25801

House Ranking Member

The Honorable Don Young

U.S. House of Representatives

House Committee on Natural Resources

Peterson Tower Building

510 L St, Suite 580

Anchorage, Alaska 99501-1954

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