Apaches Get New Opportunity to Claim Mines Harm Sacred Land

PHOENIX (AP) — The Apache Group, which is battling a foreign mining company that wants to build one of the nation’s largest copper mines on what tribal members say is sacred land, closed its doors Tuesday. It will have a new opportunity to defend its claims on federal appeal. A court panel will review the case.

A panel of 11 judges from the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals for the Circuit met Tuesday morning in a courthouse in Pasadena, Calif., to advocate for saving Oak Flats, a site east of Phoenix that the group deems sacred. We plan to consider an appeal by Apache Stronghold.

“This isn’t just about Oak Flats, it’s about all the cases involving the Amerindian sacred sites litigation,” said Luke Goodrich, the attorney representing Apache Stronghold. Goodrich serves as Vice President and Senior Counsel at Beckett Law, a non-profit legal firm that deals with religious liberty matters.

Apache Stronghold has restored religious freedom 30 years ago, saying plans to transfer Oak Flat land to mining companies through a land swap would place an undue burden on tribal members seeking to practice their religion. He sued the U.S. government based on the law.

A small Ninth Circuit panel previously ruled that the federal government could give Oak Flat land to Resolution Copper so that it could engulf the site and end Apache religious practices there. I went down by 1. The court later agreed to allow a larger panel to review the case.

Goodrich said a final decision is not expected on Tuesday and could take months before a decision is made.

Members of the Apache Stronghold traveled from Arizona to attend the hearings, stopping in cities along the way to draw attention to the case. They met on Monday at the Community Arts Center in the Boyle He Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

An oak flat called Chi’chil Bildagoteel is dotted with ancient oak groves and traditional plants that the Apaches consider essential to their religion.

Although an environmental impact study for the project has been withdrawn, the USDA has spent months discussing concerns about Oak Flats with Native American tribes and others. The environmental analysis must be reissued before proceeding with any land exchange in Tonto National Forest.

The land transfer was a last-minute provision included in the Defense Bill, which should be passed in 2014. The exchange would give the mining company 3.75 square miles (9.71 square kilometers) of national forest land in exchange for eight parcels he owns elsewhere in the United States. Arizona.

“We respect the legal process and are following this case closely,” said Resolution Copper, a joint venture between global mining company Rio Tinto and BHP, in a statement on the eve of the hearing. I was. “At the same time, we believe the settled precedent supports the District Court’s dismissal of Apache Stronghold’s claims.”

“The Resolution Copper project has received strong local support and we will continue our efforts to understand and address the concerns raised,” the statement said.

The project could supply enough copper to meet up to a quarter of U.S. demand, add up to $1 billion annually to Arizona’s economy, and create thousands of local jobs. I added that there is.

Many groups support the Battle of the Apache Stronghold, including the Poor People’s Campaign, environmental groups, and the National Indian Congress.

The Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Clinic has filed a “friends of the court” brief on the matter. Stephanie Berkley, director of Notre Dame’s Religious Freedom Initiative, will participate in oral arguments.

https://fox40.com/news/national/ap-us-news/apaches-get-new-chance-to-argue-mine-will-harm-sacred-sites/ Apaches Get New Opportunity to Claim Mines Harm Sacred Land

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