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WPLC Urges Preservation and Protection of Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Oak Flat

Via Electronic Mail

To: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

The Water Protector Legal Collective (“WPLC”) is an Indigenous-centered legal non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and advocacy for Indigenous peoples, environmental, and climate justice movements. The WPLC submits this comment to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (“ACHP”) addressing the cultural and historic importance of Chí’chil Biłdagoteel, also known as Oak Flat. The land currently at issue has been the source of heated public debate and opposition for over a decade since copper ore was first discovered in southeast Arizona in 1995. The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange approved in 2015 and Resolution Copper Project would adversely and irreparably impact the way of life of the Western Apache Nations1 and Indigenous peoples to whom this land is sacred, while destroying a place of national, cultural, and historical significance. In addition, despite representations to the contrary by the U.S. Forest Service in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, there was no meaningful consultation with Tribes and the Land Exchange and Resolution Copper Project lack the consent of Indigenous Nations in violation of federal trust obligations, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and international obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Accordingly, consistent with its mandate under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”), WPLC urges the ACHP to protect Oak Flat and halt the imminent land transfer by the Secretary of Agriculture.

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