*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Some Americans alive today may be aware that the only people who can claim to be native to America are what they still errantly call “Indians.” It’s little wonder why, though. After coming to America, white Europeans invaded, infected, slaughtered, pursued, captured, demonized and interred Native Americans onto desolate regions and had the temerity to say the “Indian reservations” were considered “protected sovereign nations.”
Those so-called sovereign nations were all well and good until Republicans could find a way to despoil or profit from them. Then, Republicans claimed it is illegal for the U.S. government to either own or oversee land Republicans want for their campaign donors’ profits. Now, in what is yet another Republican abomination, Arizona and congressional Republicans are furious at the Obama Administration for prohibiting them from giving Native American sacred land to a foreign corporation. It is beyond reprehensible and still another assault on the only “real Americans” living in the United States.
According to the Tucson Weekly, an Arizona Republican in Congress is livid and is lashing out at President Obama because “historically sacred Apache land” cannot be given to an Australian-British corporation to mine copper. Congress attempted to sneak a “backdoor sale” of very sacred ancestral Native American land, known as Oak Flat, or Chi’chil Bildagoteel, but they cannot have it removed from the National Register of Historic Places to allow the land handover to proceed.
The Republican congressmen from Arizona, Representative Paul Gosar and Senator John McCain attempted to “sell” the sacred Apache site to Resolution copper; an Australian-British corporation to mine for copper. Still, according to Stephanie Toothman, the National Register’s keeper, “Sustaining the national historic place designation may hamper the foreign corporation’s plan to build a copper mine, but nothing guarantees sacred historic property cannot be modified or destroyed.” Ms. Toothman must be aware of the GOP’s regular assaults on environmentally-fragile areas and protected wildernesses in pursuit of fossil fuel, mining, or logging interests.
Representative Gosar was beside himself with rage and lashed out at the National Register of Historic Places, the National Park system, and the Forest Service as well as President Obama in a press release. He said, forbidding Congress from stealing and selling off Apache holy places, even sacred historic places, was more Obama Administration overreach. He said:
“Shame on the Park Service and Forest Service for ramming a bogus historic place listing down the throats of Arizonans. Clearly, the Obama Administration cares more about pandering to extremist environmental groups than following the law and listening to the American public. This fraudulent action is the latest in a long list of egregious bureaucratic abuses of power by the Obama Administration. I will continue to fight this overreach.”
So now, not only are Native Americans considered pariahs that must be interred on reservations, they are “an extremist environmental group.” And, by protecting sacred historical sites the Obama Administration is “not following the law or listening to the American public.” However, according to an article in the New York Times the President is following the law and it is the Republicans in Congress taking an extremist action to benefit a foreign corporation.
Taking the tribe’s land “would have been the first time in the nation’s history that Native American lands were set to be given over to a foreign corporation to mine by the U.S. Congress.”
However, even that is not an entirely true fact. Since 2010 Republicans in Congress pushed hard and heavy to give a foreign corporation, TransCanada, Native American land for their ecological disaster the KeystoneXL pipeline.
The historic site in Arizona has long been used for the Apache tribe’s coming-of-age ceremonies, particularly for Native American girls. And, according to the archeological record it likely was used for ceremonies long before white Europeans even knew about the “New World,” much less before they came to America and began exterminating Native Americans.
When they learned about the proposed sale of the sacred ancestral grounds, the Apache people began occupying the land to protect it from foreign interlopers, according to the Times report. In fact, beginning back in early February 300 people dutifully marched 44 miles from Apache tribal headquarters to begin occupying the site to block another bunch of white foreigners from decimating their sacred land.
According to the former chairman of the San Carlos Apache tribe, Wendsler Nosie Sr., who was asked, “Why is this place sacred? It’s no difference to Mount Sinai. How the holy spirit came to be.” Mr. Nosie’s assertion was corroborated by archeological evidence presented by the Scientists for the Society for American Archaeology. The scientists testified before Congress that there is well-established “archeological evidence of Apache occupation and use of the sacred site that goes back long before recorded history.”
However, according to Republican Gosar the archeological record, scientific data, the Obama Administration and Apache tribe are all liars. Gosar said he knows,
“It is not a holy site despite Apache claims to it or the historical and archeological evidence. Oak Flat has never been a sacred site. Yet, Obama’s minions are hell-bent on sabotaging an important mining effort by listing a small area 20 miles away from the reservation as a historic site.”
As the Times article noted, Congress attempting to sell off sacred land was;
“Nothing less than corrupt. If Oak Flat were a Christian holy site, or for that matter Jewish or Muslim, no senator who wished to remain in office would dare to sneak a backdoor deal for its destruction into a spending bill — no matter what mining-corporate profits might result. But this is Indian religion. Clearly the Arizona congressional delegation isn’t afraid of a couple of million conquered natives.” The Times article’s author called the attempted handover to a foreign corporation precisely what it is; “a new low in congressional corruption.”
One expects Republicans to file a suit against someone on behalf of the foreign corporation; likely the Apache tribe, Scientists for the Society for American Archaeology, Parks and Forest Service, and the Obama Administration for protecting a sacred site from a foreign corporation. However, for the time being the sacred site will remain listed under the National Register of Historic Places. Mr. Nosie said,
“Oak Flat, known to us Chi’chil Bildagoteel, has always been our connection to our Mother, our right to exist, a central part of our prayers, songs, stories and spiritual practices. It is from here that we emerged. It is who we are. Chi’chil Bildagoteel, our holy land, was put under the care of the U.S. government, and because of its uniqueness, the great value of maintaining its ecological and cultural integrity, protected by its laws.”
Republicans could not possibly care less about holy land, cultural integrity or ecological uniqueness, much less U.S. government laws protecting sacred, historical, national parks or environmentally-protected land. They have been actively despoiling land, sacred and otherwise, that is under government protection with renewed vigor over the past few years. Such as last year in Mormon Utah and the Nevada “standoff” according to their belief that the government illegally owns its own land, or protects sacred Native American burial sites Republicans claim belongs to corporations. Oh, Republicans likely care about holy land, but only if it is in Israel; and probably then only if some foreign corporation donating to them can’t profit off it.
This latest atrocious act, although a first as far as Congress attempting to hand off sacred historical land to a foreign corporation, is typical of Republicans who will go to any length to benefit a corporation at the expense of the people; especially people the white man has spent three-hundred-plus years treating them like wild beasts to be slaughtered.