Crossing Borders: Chasing Republican Senator McCain Off the Navajo Nation

 

August 15, 2015. The $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 is one of the must-pass pieces of legislation that Congress moves every year. But like they did in attaching other extraneous riders to the must-pass government-funding bill, lawmakers used the defense bill as a vehicle to pass a massive public lands package. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona slipped the giveaway language onto the defense bill at the 11th hour. Which gives sacred Native American site in Arizona to Australian-British mining company. The tactic was successful only because, like most last-minute riders, it bypassed public scrutiny. This sacred land has had special protections since 1955, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed the area closed to mining — which, like cattle grazing, is otherwise common in national forests — because of its cultural and natural value. President Richard M. Nixon’s Interior Department in 1971 renewed this ban. Despite these protections, in December 2014, Congress promised to hand the title for Oak Flat over to Australian-British mining concern. By doing this, Congress has handed over a sacred Native American site to a foreign-owned company for what may be the first time in our nation’s history. The Apache Nation of Oak Flat in Arizona, say digging a massive mine under their ancestral lands will destroy sacred ceremonial and burial grounds.

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