The Latest: San Carlos Apache lobbies to protect lands threatened by copper mining

Resolution Copper company engineered a land swap with the feds, but locals oppose it.

  • Apache Stronghold Rally in Washington, D.C., July 2015.

    Robert Meyers/Greenpeace

Resolution Copper has long had its eye on a huge copper deposit underneath Oak Flat, near Superior, Arizona, which had been protected by a 1955 executive order from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In order to mine the deposit, the company engineered a land swap with the federal government, which stalled in Congress, due in part to opposition from local activists and the nearby San Carlos Apache Tribe, for whom Oak Flat is holy ground (“Reluctant Boomtown,” HCN, 2/18/08). 

In December, the land exchange was smuggled through Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. In June, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz, introduced a bill that would repeal the land-exchange legislation. And in July, he joined members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in a 2,000-mile protest journey to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Grijalva’s bill has little chance of passing, so members of the tribe are now circulating a petition to get Oak Flat designated — and protected — as a national monument.

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