Update from our “Protect Oak Flat” Committee

Oak Flat. Chi’Chil Bildagoteel.

Sacred land tended to and filled with centuries of indigenous prayer. 

Sacred land taken by the US government by military conquest.

Sacred land the US government promised in treaty to care for. 

Held by the National Forest Service. And so the care for this sacred land is the responsibility of every USer’s responsibility.

Sacred land traded away to destruction, likely for campaign contributions.

Sacred land that still lives and breathes.

Sacred land where Ga’an, angels on assignment, still administer the working out of our prayer in that place for the good of land and all that lives.

In October 2021, three judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard Apache Stronghold’s appeal to protect Oak Flat from destruction by a copper mining company.  Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition supported their journey there both from a distance, and in person along the journey and in the Bay Area. At the end of June 2022, the court finding was released: 2 against and 1 for the saving of Oak Flat. So, Apache Stronghold started preparing to file an appeal for religious freedom with the Supreme Court. But, a rare and good thing has happened! One of the 9th Circuit Court judges called the case back for the full panel of eleven 9th Circuit Court judges to consider. They plan to vote on whether or not to re-hear the case in October.  

This month, Apache Stronghold asks us for two things:

1) Pray. Wrap them, their lawyers, the judges, and the land in focused prayer. Perhaps you will move your prayers through walking, running or moving in other ways with Goshen College cross-country team members throughout September. Check our Facebook page @dismantlediscovery for posts shared each day from Goshen College students.

2) Organize organizations, congregations and denominations to sign onto an amicus brief (friend of the court) for Federal or Supreme court. The deadline is October 24. One brief is ready for that sign on. It focuses on freedom of religion, specifically that the destruction of Oak Flat would be a “substantial burden” on Apache religious exercise.

We understand this as legal strategy most likely to sway the current Supreme Court, even as we would like for them to enthusiastically honor the wisdom of the land-rooted religions of indigenous people and the land herself. If your congregation, conference or organization would like to join a brief, please contact the attorneys of Apache Stronghold at Becket Law: lgoodrich[AT]becketlaw.org and mschilling[AT]becketlaw.org. And let me (Carol) know when you do that so our Coalition’s Protect Oak Flat Committee can follow up and celebrate the fruits of our action together. Contact: carol[AT]shalommennonite.org

– Carol Rose, Co-Pastor, Shalom Mennonite Fellowship