Wendsler Nosie Sr. Speaks to a crowd of supporters. [photo from Apache Stringold]
Today was a day that we hope will go down in history as an influential part of the journey to save Oak Flat. On the lawn of the Capitol building in Washington DC, hundreds of supporters gathered to raise awareness about this critical issue. Members of the San Carlos Apache were joined by concerned community members, journalists, and Congresspeople alike. My mom and I watched the rally on a live stream (thank you, Internet!) as many passionate speakers took to the stage. (If you missed the rally, read a recap by the Huffington Post here and a Cronkite News story here).
There were many inspiring moments during the rally, perhaps most notably the presentation of an Avaaz petition asking Congress to protect Oak Flat that has nearly a million signatures. People from literally all over the world recognize this injustice and demand a change. The people have spoken, and their message is clear: protect Oak Flat.
Words of wisdom were spoken by tribal members including Wendsler Nosie Sr., Sandra Rambler, and Terry Rambler. “When you go back to your states, call your congressmen…and you tell them to protect Oak Flat,” said Sandra Rambler. “The power is the people.”
Representative Grijalva, who introduced the Save Oak Flat Act, also spoke and was presented with a traditional pipe by the tribe. “No member of Congress should feel proud – or feel like they got away with something – by ignoring the needs and rights of the original Americans,” said Grijalva. “Oak Flat is as sacred to the Apache people as any other church, temple, synagogue or mosque is to its congregants across this country.”
With growing awareness and steadfast support from folks around the world, our hopes are high for Oak Flat. We’ll be thinking of Apache Stonghold tonight and we applaud them for their incredible effort to repeal the deal and SAVE OAK FLAT.