Renzo Moran ’24
The Brophy Native American club ran from Flagstaff to Oak Flat, February 17th through the 20th, to protest the mining company Resolution Copper from taking land they say is sacred to the Apache.
It worked as a relay system with two vehicles there to pick up students who had finished running their portion of the distance. The run concluded with a four-mile march to Oak Flat, where students spent the day watching ceremonies, blessings and speakers.
“The run itself is a prayer run,” said Mr. Cooper Davis, moderator of the Native American Club. “Everyone that is running is praying that the hearts and minds of those in Washington change to make a moral decision about the environment.”
Students are proving that young people care about these sorts of issues and are willing to be advocates for them by involving themselves in a peaceful protest. “There’s always time to fix America and I want to do my part in that,” said club member Andrew Reed ’23.
The history of the run dates back to 2014, when John McCain slipped the transaction of Oak Flat to Resolution Copper into a must-pass national defense spending bill. The mine produced from the arrangement would create a mile wide and 1,000 foot deep crater, decimating the area.
The Apache Stronghold, a group dedicated to protecting Native American culture and religion, was first put on the run in 2015 as a small protest. Since then, it’s grown larger to include groups like Brophy’s Native American Club.
While this is the Apache Stronghold’s seventh run, this is only Brophy’s second time participating in the protest against the mine. Mr. Davis said, “We’re still here, we believed in our prayer last year and we believe that the prayer this year is going to have a big impact…every day we delay it, is a win for us.”
The mine, which was supposed to have been built by now, was delayed in part by the spread of awareness brought on by the several organized runs. However, it was mainly halted due to the companies not doing a tribal consultation.
Companies, along with the federal government, need to host tribal consultations before doing anything with Native American land. The point of one is to have a government-to-government talk between the two parties on federal proposals before they are put into place. This is something Resolution Copper forgot to do, halting the construction of the mine.
Another thing preventing the company from destroying native land is Senate bill 915 and House of Representatives bill 1844, which have both been introduced and are awaiting a vote. According to congress’ website, the goal of the bills is to repeal the requirement for the Department of Agriculture to deliver Oak Flat to Resolution Copper.