Protect Oak Flat
Resolved, that the Executive Committee of Executive Council recognizes that for generations upon generations down to the present day, native peoples have gathered at Oak Flat, Arizona (known to the Apache as Chi 'chi! Bildagoteel) to harvest acorns and plants for ceremonial prayer, medicinal purposes, and to gather for other cultural reasons. And be it further
Resolved, that the Executive Committee of Executive Council acknowledges that these are holy, sacred, and consecrated lands which remain central to the identity of native peoples in the region, including neighboring Apache tribes. And be it further
Resolved, that in keeping with General Convention resolutions 2000 D-005, to "Oppose Environmental Racism" and 2012 B023, Episcopalians are called to "Seek Environmental Justice", and be it further
Resolved, that the Executive Council urges protection of the sacred land of Oak Flat, through legislation such as the “Save Oak Flat Act bill (S.915 & H.R.1884)” or executive action.
Oak Flat is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property.
The FEIS reveals truly devastating potential impacts. In place of the Oak Flat/ Chi'chil Bildagoteel the destructive block-cave mining will produce 1.8 miles wide and 1000 feet deep crater half-filled with water contaminated by the heavy metals used to refine the ore. It will create a dangerous 1.5 m. ton mountain of waste (tailings) near Superior, AZ and deplete the streams and aquifer (all a part of the sacred ecosystem of these Native Peoples). The nowwithdrawn FEIS summarizes well what is at stake: "Oak Flat is a sacred place to the Western Apache, Yavapai, O'odham, Hopi, and Zuni. It is a place where rituals are performed, and resources are gathered; its loss would be an indescribable hardship to those peoples."
Nearly all of the 574 federally recognized tribes, as well as the National Congress of Indians and the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, support the protection of Oak Flat/ Chi' chil Bildagoteel.
This resolution will help the Diocese of Arizona to continue to advocate for the just use of this holy land, and give us access to assistance from the Office of Government Relations in working with our Senators and Representatives.