Congress put an unexpected gift under the Christmas tree the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has become.
The U.S. is poised to give a foreign mining company 2,400 acres of national forest in Arizona that is cherished ancestral homeland to Apache natives. Details of the proposed land deal can be found here.
The giveaway of Apache burial, medicinal, and ceremonial grounds is currently within the bounds of Tonto National Forest. Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, is to be the beneficiary of Congress’ largesse at the expense of Apache natives.
News of the land provision in the NDAA was kept under wraps until late Tuesday, when the bill was finally posted online. The land deal appears on page 1,105. The bill passed the U.S. House on Thursday 300-119. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate where it is expected to pass during the lame duck session.
The Resolution Copper website describes the deal as “developing an Arizona copper resource to benefit the world. Located near Superior, Arizona, the project hosts one of the world’s largest untapped copper resources.”
The Apache have a different view.
“Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland,” Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe said, referring to the overall area in question. “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.”
Rambler said whether Rio Tinto’s economic assertions are true or not, it may not matter.
“It seems like us Apaches and other Indians care more about what this type of action does to the environment and the effects it leaves behind for us, while others tend to think more about today and the promise of jobs, but not necessarily what our creator God gave to us,” he said.
This year Congress named the NDAA the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015” after the retiring Senate and House Armed Services Committee chairmen. Arizona Senator John McCain is said to have been instrumental in getting the mining deal added to the law.
“The Resolution Copper project has the potential to utterly transform these communities (near Superior, Arizona),” wrote McCain in an article in AZCentral. “At full capacity, the mine could create as many as 4,000 jobs and produce roughly 25 percent of our nation’s domestic copper supply. Arizona as a whole will likely benefit from tens of billions of dollars in increased economic activity over the lifespan of the mine.”
This is who we have become as a nation. Exploring for and producing every last resource on the globe, regardless of long standing and legitimate concerns, for the sake of jobs.
Where will the copper go? It will be traded on the world market. One of the buyers is expected to be the country with the biggest shopping cart. Today’s that’s China. Another indicator of the times in which we live.
The government favors the military, and since the NDAA is expected to pass each and every year, what better place to hang an ornament of interest to the richest corporations in the world? The goal is economic development, but at what cost? Politicians like John McCain don’t answer that question.