Why? Because Federal land, National Forest land even, that has been protected for use by the Apache tribe for cultural and religious ceremonies was leased to foreign mining conglomerates. How did this happen? John McCain and fellow Arizona Republican Senator John Flake (not a good name for politics) add a rider to a must-pass National Defense bill in the last days of the 2014 session, just before Christmas break.
Now, I could be mad about that alone. Allowing foreign interests to use protected federal land, our national heritage, in a way that would not allow debate or objection is pretty crummy to say the least. But the fact that the land in question had religious significance makes it even worse.
The area known as Oak Flat is part of Arizona's Tonto National Forest, and the Apache have used it for generations in young women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is fighting it as best he can by getting the site listed as one of the National Trust's Top Endangered Historic Places; and has won support of the Sierra Club and the national Congress of American Indians. He says this in the linked article: "This is a violation of sacred sites and a violation of trust responsibility." While he is speaking specifically about Native American sites, and if you are unaware of the horrible things the US has done to native peoples you need to do a little research into our bloody past, the statement is essentially true for anyone.
Congress has allowed corporate interests to trump religious rights in an act created by one of the most well known Republicans in the Senate.
You might say "but its just some silly Indian place." If you do I wonder how you can stand to read this blog. What can be done to someone else can be done to you. Precedent is a dangerous tool. What happens when its an old church or historic synagogue in the way of money next time? What happens to you when you are not in the majority?
The Apache, and all Native Americans, should be upset about this and do everything to stop it. Moreover we should ALL be upset about this and do what we can to stop it.
If you actually support religious rights in this country that is, and aren't just looking out for your self.