Deplorable John McCain and Jeff Flake SELL OUT the Apache Indians
In May 2015, approximately 300 men, women and children were camped out at a place called Oak Flat – about an hour east of Phoenix – for more than three months to protest the latest assault by our government to their culture. The campground is at the very core of an ancient Apache holy place – a place where coming-of-age ceremonies and traditional acorn gatherings have been performed for generations. A sacred place where Apaches go to pray. Under the “multiple-use mandate” of the Forest Service, this land belongs to the public.
The Apache Holy Land has had special protections, since 1955, when then President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed it closed to mining because of its cultural value. In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon renewed this ban. However, in December 2014, the United States Congress promised to hand the title of Oak Flat over to a private Australian-British mining company. This happened because a fine-print rider was added to the “must-pass” military spending bill – the National Defense Authorization Act – ultimately trading away the Indian Holy Land. In other words, for what may be the first time in history, Congress handed over a sacred Native American site to a foreign-owned company.
Ultimately, we can all assume that this sacred Holy Land will be destroyed as the firm, Resolution Copper Mining, will hollow out a chamber that, when it caves in, will leave a two-mile-wide, 1,000-foot-deep pit. Even by congressional standards, this deplorable and greedy land grab was completely anti-democratic. For more than a decade, the parcel that contains Oak Flat had been coveted by Resolution’s parent company, Rio Tinto, which was already mining an area surrounding the Holy Land for the high-value ores beneath it.
For at least 10 years, this deal has been in the works through campaign contributions and paid lobbyists working behind the scenes to bribe congressional leaders. And, as always, Congress caved for the payout. Basically, Resolution will trade 5,300 acres of private parcels owned by the company to the Forest Service in exchange for the 2,400 acres that include Oak Flat. And, the land can be mined without oversight. This swap has been attempted multiple times by Arizona members of Congress on behalf of the company and by sneaking it into the last minute National Defense Authorization Act, they were able to accomplish it – at the expense of the Apaches.
The list of contributors who pushed this deal through are:
- Rick Renzi – a former Republican representative who was sent to federal prison in February for three years for corruption related to earlier versions of the land-transfer deal.
- Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona – the two who slipped in the giveaway language at the last minute in the National Defense Authorization Act at the 11th hour, utilizing a tactic that bypassed public scrutiny. Please note that since 2002, Flake has taken a total of $384,704 from the mining industry with a notable large sum of $170,602 in 2012 and $183,602 in 2014. And, McCain has taken a total of $268,700 since 2002.
It is important to know that Rio Tinto affiliates have been long term McCain campaign contributors and Flake was a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rossing Uranium before being elected to Congress. Of course, McCain and others assert that the mining project will be a boost to the local economy in the area, however haven’t given any indication how many of the 1,400 “promised” jobs will actually be local citizens. And, incidentally, Rio Tinto has a history of “environmental devastation” with past endeavors. Certainly this is of no concern to McCain and Flake.
This back door deal by McCain and Flake clearly show they have no respect for the Native American culture or Apache religion in Arizona. The fact that they were motivated by money given to them from the mining company to allow precious public land to be destroyed and the Apache Indians to be brushed aside is deplorable. It is also very telling of their character. This is a new low in congressional corruption. And it is important to also point out that the way McCain and Flake worded the bill’s language is that simply, 60 days after the federal “environmental impact statement” is complete, the land will belong to Resolution. There is nothing in the bill to stop the swap no matter what the environmental study says.