Credit: Jakob Barlow/High Country News

(Chiricahua/San Carlos Apache)
San Carlos Apache Tribe executive assistant, Apache Stronghold member 
San Carlos, Arizona

Native people are often viewed as people of the past, not of the present or future, but Oak Flat tells our true story. The Apache lived in Oak Flat freely: We were born here, we fought here, we ate from the food it provided, we drank from its springs, we used its medicine and we’re buried here. We have been here and are still here. When gold, silver and copper were found here in the 1800s, our people were targeted and forced onto Hell’s Forty Acres — the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Mining is an act of killing the land. When mining companies like Resolution Copper kill places like Oak Flat, they kill us, by taking away both our way of life and spiritual connection to the land — and that is the worst way to die. That is not what we want. We want to stay connected; we want to live here freely as our ancestors did.

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