Don’t Transfer Sacred Native American Land to Mining Company

Target: John Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Indian Affairs

Goal: Stop selloff of sacred Native American lands for copper mining.

Culturally important Native American lands may soon be sold to a foreign-owned mining company thanks to a provision snuck into a 2014 defense bill. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill into the Senate that would repeal the land exchange and protect the area, known as Oak Flat, from destruction.

Oak Flat, which lies within Tonto National Forest in Arizona, has been used for Apache young women’s coming-of-age ceremonies for centuries. It’s also a place steeped in dark history. The site was originally part of the Old San Carlos Reservation, where the Apache were imprisoned by the U.S. military in the late 1800s during the Apache Wars.

Due to the extensive copper reserves in the area, mining activities in Oak Flat would dig a crater two miles wide and 1000 feet deep. The site also lies dangerously close to the Apache Reservation’s aquifer. Mining could cause serious contamination to groundwater through acid runoff, threatening not just the reservation but neighboring towns that rely on the aquifer as well.

Though they have a wholly legitimate claim to the land, the Apache people simply want to maintain public access and forbid mining in Oak Flat. They fear the destruction mining will cause and the inability to visit the land to perform rituals or collect herbs—important parts of their way of life. Urge the Senate to support Sanders’ legislation and protect Oak Flat from corporate greed.


Dear Senator Barrasso,

A provision snuck into a 2014 defense bill would allow the selloff of sacred Native American lands to London-based mining company Rio Tinto. The company plans to open up a crater two miles wide and 1000 feet deep in the area known as Oak Flat within Tonto National Forest. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the “Save Oak Flat Act” to stop this inappropriate land exchange from occurring.

Though currently public land, Oak Flat was once part of Old San Carlos Reservation. It was here that the Apache people were imprisoned during the Apache Wars in the late 1800s. The site also has deep cultural significance. Apache young women have engaged in coming-of-age ceremonies here for centuries. Though they have a legitimate claim to the land, the Apache simply want Oak Flat to remain open to the public and protected from destructive mining activities.

Beyond the cultural and logistical problems with selling off oak flat, there are serious environmental concerns. The site lies close to the Apache Reservation’s aquifer, and contamination via acid runoff during mining is a likely possibility. The neighboring towns of Miami and Globe also rely heavily on this groundwater.

Furthermore, this exchange deliberately violates an executive order by President Eisenhower in 1955 that forbid future mining projects in Oak Flat. There is just no excuse for this land exchange to occur other than corporate greed. I urge you to please consider the rights of the Apache people and support Senator Sanders’ legislation.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Wendy Kenin

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  1. SHAME ON YOU JOHN BARRASSO. You’re selling your ancesters’ land to increase your profits at the bank = GREEDY.

  2. I thought that the the true native Americans were given lands that no one could ever touch as some sort of apology for taken EVERYTHING we took from them besides killing off many Indian tribes. Customs, life’s, foods, dignity, etc., etc.

    • bob ellison says:

      What we have here is a blatant violation of the law signed into law by President Eisenhower sponsored by Crazy Bernie.

      Bernie is an crazy wild man I wouldn’t trust to count my returnable soda cans and yet equally stupid voters think Bernie is the end all. And they are right, if he is elected he will be end all for America.

      Bernie is the poster boy for doing the wrong thing at the right time. He is consistent.

      Is anyone in DC removetely intelligent? Answer: NO! Especially Bernie.

      • What do you NOT understand about the sentence in this petition stating that: “Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill into the Senate that would repeal the land exchange and protect the area, known as Oak Flat, from destruction.” Do you understand the words “PROTECT THE AREA ” and “REPEAL THE LAND EXCHANGE?” as in, Senator Sanders wants to PROTECT the AREA??? Bernie wants to END this obscene land sale that would take away sacred lands from the Native Americans !!! Read it again!!!

      • Wednesday's Childe says:

        Wow….ignorance on parade. Do some research – He’s working for the exact OPPOSITE!

      • Bob had a massive brain fart. Hopefully he’ll recover…he’s in bad shape as evidenced by his miscomprehension of Sanders’ bill, and unrealistic statements about Sanders.

        Sanders is the only moral presidential candidate. He is the only one not bought by, not a puppet of, the corrupt, greedy and immoral corporate bankers and plutocrats who are destroying democracy, the environment, and the health and lives of people and wildlife, in the U.S.

        Sanders is the only hope remaining for morality and the middle class in the U.S.


  4. Karen Remnant says:

    Pure greed – disgusting! Those involved should be ashamed but that would require having morals to start with!

  5. This was going nowhere and in the last several weeks a lot of people saw posts on fb and started signing like crazy. Thanks to everyone who took the time to do the right thing. I just pray they get to keep their land.

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