Spiritual & Environmental Significance

Is Oak Flat Sacred?

The Environmental and Spiritual Significance of
Chi’chil Bildagoteel, 
an Apache Sacred Site

A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the Environmental Program, The Colorado College
by Emily Lucas, May 2017

Acknowledgements:  This work would not have been possible without the help of countless people. Ahi'yihe: to the entire Nosie family, especially Wendsler and Theresa, for always treating me with love and acceptance, for becoming my family, and for teaching me what it means to be Apache. To Vernalda Grant, for her wisdom and guidance. To everyone else on San Carlos and in Apache Stronghold who has been a part of this movement. To my academic advisors Dr. Eric Perramond and Dr. Jean Lee, for your patience and invaluable assistance during this process. To Dr. Dwanna Robertson, for being a mentor and a friend. Lastly (but always first in my heart), to my family, for their love and support.

Introduction:  Indigenous peoples across the United States and around the world are disproportionately affected by environmental issues, including mining. Mining on tribal lands has created a plethora of environmental hazards, and side effects like tainted groundwater and tailings have increased rates of diseases like cancer in indigenous communities. Furthermore, the loss of traditional territory can be culturally and spiritually devastating, even in cases where the tribal government agreed to allow mining. Despite mining companies’ promises of economic opportunity, such jobs often fail to materialize, while negative consequences appear in abundance.

The Environmental and Spiritual Significance of Chi’chil Bildagoteel, an Apache Sacred Site PDF; 296 KB (c) Emily Lucas