3rd March to Oak Flat focuses on Mother Earth
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
SUPERIOR — “I have been doing this for my whole life, even when I was young. It is a combination of my parents, ancestors and who I am, and the fact that we are on a reservation which was a prison for our people. This is home where we are originated from. We are exiles out of here and it is important to come home,” San Carlos Apache tribal member Wendsler Nosie Sr. said.
Nosie led the third annual March to Oak Flat on Saturday, a protest of the federal land swap of more than 2,400 acres of U.S. Forest Service land near Superior — including Oak Flat — in exchange for more than 5,300 acres of Resolution Copper-owned land that is believed to be environmentally sensitive.
Nosie said that Oak Flat “is our identity and religious ways, where God touched the Earth and gave us these blessed ways. It is here, and important to be here and come back because of what we see today and what is happening with America using these lands with disrespect.”
The day opened with an Apache prayer ceremony, with drums, singing and dancing, a ceremony that can be witnessed by all but not to be recorded or photographed. “It is because what comes together cannot be caught. You cannot freeze what is spiritual, and a picture would freeze and capture that spirit coming together. It weakens all the spirits to exist because now you capture it in time, and that is the reason we don’t allow it because we shouldn’t capture it and make a statue out of it,” Nosie said.
Speakers talked about the importance of the land and the need to protect it from development. “The only thing we have right now is conscience so that people can rise to a level to question their congressional leaders in their state. So that they can pull this bill out and not allow it to happen,” Nosie said. “Because of the ugliness of politics and ugliness of co-operations and ugliness of funding involved in campaigning, it really comes down to people’s conscience. If we can reach that which is deep in their heart, then change will come, and this is how we protect what we have.”
Nosie has announced his intention to run for Congress in 2018, in Arizona’s first district.