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Agriculture, Justice Departments Should Reverse Course on Copper Mine on Indigenous Cultural, Religious Site

‘No Better Place’ to Respect Tribal Sovereignty Than Halting Copper Mine at Oak Flat

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Justice should reverse course in ongoing litigation over a planned copper mine in Arizona at Chi’chil Biłdagoteel, also known as Oak Flat, and keep faith with the Biden Administration’s policy of respect for Tribal sovereignty, meaningful and authentic consultation, and treaty obligations, the National Wildlife Federation urged the departments in a letter this week.

“We believe that the government’s litigation position in Apache Stronghold v. United States of America (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) is entirely inconsistent with the Presidential memorandum on ‘Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships.’ The President has made Tribal sovereignty and the sovereign rights of Indigenous communities a foundational principle of his administration. We believe that continuing the Trump Administration’s litigation posture in this case conflicts with this directive,” National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara wrote in the letter. “We also encourage the Biden Administration to support passage of Chairman Raul Grijalva’s Save Oak Flat Act, which would permanently protect Chi’chil Biłdagoteel.”

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