Apache Alliance Unanimously Approves Resolution Repealing Southeast AZ Land Exchange Act
By Valerie O. Key
Mescalero, NM – On Friday, May 29, 2015, Chairman Terry Rambler attended the Apache Alliance Meeting which was hosted by the Mescalero Apache Tribe and held at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. This was a very important meeting where Chairman Rambler did a presentation to the group on the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange Act and how the San Carlos Apache Tribe needs the Alliance’s support in repealing the Act.
The Apache Alliance is a non-profit organization comprised of nine Apache Tribes from the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The Apache Alliance is made up of the following tribes: White Mountain Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Ft. Sill Apache Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Tonto Apache Tribe, and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.
Apache Alliance is a group of sovereign, independent Apache Tribes who recognize the importance and benefit of being united on common causes. The Alliance strives to retain their historic and traditional sovereignty and independence as an Apache Nation; who have the right to determine their own destiny and ways of life. They are organized to provide legislative and public policy resources for Apache Tribes, policymakers, and the public on tribal issues of common concern. They are also established to promote, protect and preserve the general welfare and interests of Apache Tribes by supporting Apache tribal governmental processes.
Chairman Rambler gave a powerful slide presentation full of pictures and graphs to give the Alliance a visual of the Oak Flat area and how it will be destroyed when Resolution Copper begins their mining project.
Chairman Rambler discussed how block cave mining would have an adverse and devastating impact on the environment, not only in the immediate future, but also for generations to come. “My people will no longer be able to harvest acorn in the area, an important staple of our traditional diet, or medicinal plants and herbs that are essential to ceremonies, curing rites, and rituals”, said Chairman Rambler. These are part of the religious and cultural impacts that this land exchange will negatively impact.
“As Tribal Leaders, we have to protect the freedom of religion of our people, regardless of where they go to pray to our Creator God. On our Reservation, we have about 32 Christian churches and those that still believe in the Apache religion. As Chairman, I do not make a distinction of who is right and who is wrong. My job is to protect the rights and freedom of our people to practice their faith and how and where they pray”, stated Chairman Rambler.
Chairman Rambler provided the Alliance the real jobs numbers. He stated, “Resolution Copper did an economic impact analysis that vastly overstated the economic benefits of the proposed mining project. They assumed there would be no environmental costs. They assumed copper production and prices would remain high over a 64-year period. Their analysis says the mine will produce 1,429 direct mining jobs statewide. We conducted our own analysis and the mine will produce only 342 direct mining jobs locally. This is the reason Resolution Copper did their analysis statewide rather than locally, to camouflage the real jobs numbers locally.” Chairman Rambler further stated, “Our new hospital, scheduled to open in July 2015, will have 485 direct health care jobs locally. Our new hospital will create more direct jobs locally than the proposed mine will. So the question is, are the 342 local mining jobs worth destroying Oak Flat and the surrounding area?”
Councilman Arnold Beach from the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council stated, “We do not even need to discuss this any further, we all see what negative impacts this land exchange will have on the land, water and most of all the people of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and neighboring communities. I propose we pass a resolution today and stand with our brothers and sisters from the San Carlos Apache Tribe in their journey to repeal this gross act passed by Congress.”
Chairman Ronnie Lupe of the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council later wrote “One particular agenda item that was brought to the table by Chairman Terry Rambler of the San Carlos Apache Tribe was a draft resolution for the repeal of Section 3003 of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. To let it stand as it is endangers all Indian Tribes across Indian country and could affect your Tribe/Nation and it is extremely important that Indian Tribes act to repeal Section 3003.” This statement came from Chairman Lupe’s letter to the member Tribes transmitting the certified Resolution encouraging the Apache Tribes to unite and support each other.
After a few more questions from the Alliance members, the Apache Alliance unanimously voted to pass the resolution supporting the San Carlos Apache Tribe to repeal the Land Exchange Act.
Chairman Rambler was extremely thankful to the group and stated, “I appreciate the Alliance passing this resolution today. It is my hope that you will take a copy of this resolution back to your respective Tribal Councils and also have them approve this resolution. Together, we will stand strong and make a loud and clear statement when we return back to Washington, D.C. to repeal this Act.”