Criticism in the state of Arizona has erupted over the sale of what’s treated as a holy site by Apache Indians to a foreign mining interest.
What’s eliciting much of the outrage is the fact that the sale of the land was essentially done by trying to hide it within a bill that went through the United States Senate. That bill, the Defense Authorization Act, had a provision included in it by Arizona’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, that put the land up for sale.
The overall bill encompassed hundreds of pages, with the land provision that was included late in the process buried within. The approach, while common among politicians, allowed the Resolution Copper Mining LLC to purchase the Oak Flat land.
Oak Flat had been declared a protected land by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, and despite a number of previous attempts to sell it within the last decade, it has stayed protected until the passage of this bill.
The reason that Resolution Copper has been so eager to purchase this land is that copper deposits as well as other ores are plentiful enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
McCain’s involvement is especially controversial, since the Resolution endeavor is partly backed by Rio Tinto, a powerful British mining firm. The company’s largest donations have gone toward McCain.
The land itself was used as a ceremonial an burial ground, and was likely used during ancient times, considering the archaeological evidence that its supporters have displayed.