By Derrick Broze
Arizona Senator John McCain was confronted by an Arizona State University student for his support of a controversial mining project which threatens land sacred to the San Carlos Apache.
Phoenix, Arizona – On February 19, Senator John McCain was visiting the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University’s Downtown campus for an interview series known as “Iconic Voices” when he was questioned about his support of the planned Rio Tinto copper mining project. McCain has received criticism for his role in passing the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange bill as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The law allows for the sale of the Oak Flat campground to international mining company, Rio Tinto. Oak Flat is historically important to the San Carlos Apache.
MintPress News recently reported:
The Apache Stronghold formed in December 2014 in response to a last-minute legislative provision included in the the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The provision at issue in the annual Defense Department funding bill grants Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of Australian-English mining giant Rio Tinto, a 2,400-acre land parcel which includes parts of the Tonto National Forest, protected national forest in Arizona where it will create the continent’s largest copper mine.
Some of those lands are considered sacred by multiple Native American communities, including the Oak Flatcampground. The area is not recognized as part of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, but it has historically been used by the Apache for trading purposes and spiritual ceremonies.
As McCain was leaving the ASU campus a group of community members came together and questioned him about his dealings with Oak Flat. Laura Medina, an ASU graduate student in the American Indian Studies Master’s program, challenged McCain directly, shouting “John McCain, You got time to talk about Oak Flat?” Medina stood directly in front of the senator and asked him to take “just a few moments, talk about the environmental impacts.” Medina asked McCain why he won’t talk about the dangers the mining project poses to the water, the air, and the land.
As usual, he ignores the people.
"It is important we keep calling out these politicians who do nothing but spit rhetoric then do corrupt acts against the people,” Medina said in a statement. “Arizona needs to fully understand the environmental destruction that will entail if the biggest open pit mine is only an hour away, Rio Tinto has one of the worst reputations for disrespecting environmental and indigenous rights around the world.”