Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Featured

U.S. Senate Passes Defense Bill: Giving Apache Land to Foreign Corporation & Opening Up Public Access To Yakama Nation Sacred Site

U.S. Senate Passes Defense Bill: Giving Apache Land to Foreign Corporation & Opening Up Public Access To Yakama Nation Sacred Site

On December 12th, the U.S. Senate passed the $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015. The NDAA, which passed 89-11, allocates $521.3 billion to fund the Pentagon, and another $63.7 billion to pay for military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. House approved the NDAA on Dec 4th.

Tucked inside the NDAA were two resolutions that greatly impact sacred lands of the Apache and Yakama Nations.

The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, will transfer 2,400 acres of Apache ancestral lands located in the Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto an Australian-English mining company.

Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, states, “Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland. We’ve had dancers in that area forever – sunrise dancers – and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off from the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas.”

Apache leap

Apache leap

The Apache land transfer measure was added into the NDAA by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) & Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Also included in the NDAA was Section 2867, which will force open public access to a sacred Yakama Nation mountain. The summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, called Laliik by the Yakama Nation and considered a sacred site to the Yakama, Nez Perce and Umatilla Nations, is currently off limits to the general public.

Rattlesnake Mountain

Rattlesnake Mountain

JoDe Goudy, Yakama Nation Tribal Chairman, states, “Yakama Nation is even more strongly opposed to this amendment (Section 2867). Laliik (our name for Rattlesnake Mountain) is a sacred mountain to the Yakama People and promoting public access-including motorized access- would constitute and adverse effect to the spiritual quality of the Mountain and the character defining features that make it eligible as a Traditional Cultural Property under the National Historic Preservation Act. Senators, Laliik is our Mount Sinai. This is where Smohalla, our most revered prophet and teacher set forth teachings and practices that are followed to this day. When our Long House leaders feel that a young adult is ready and worthy, Laliik is where they are sent to fast and to have vision quests. This is not a place for Airstreams and Winnebagos.”

The NDAA Bill now goes to President Obama to sign into law.

White House petition to stop Yakama Nation Sacred Site Desecration
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-yakama-nation-sacred-site-desecration/qRcdFFHS

White House petition to stop the Apache land grab
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-apache-land-grab/rnMfH0WL