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To: Members of Congress
As supporters of faith freedom for all, we care deeply about the religious freedom of our Indigenous neighbors. Too often, they have been forced to sacrifice their sacred spaces to mining, oil and gas drilling and other extractive industries. As a Member of Congress, you can support religious freedom by demanding the swift passage of the Save Oak Flat Act (H.R. 1884/S. 915).
Chí’chil Biłdagoteel, loosely translated as “Oak Flat” in English, is a site with sacred significance for many Southwestern tribes, including the Apache, Hopi, Yavapai, and Zuni. It is a site where many Indigenous people connect to their Creator, and it’s the location for religious rituals and cultural ceremonies.
This oasis – just an hour east of Phoenix – is also enjoyed by hikers, campers, rock climbers, birdwatchers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Its sacredness is not lessened because others enjoy its natural beauty.
In 2014, Congress added a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act that requires this holy ground be given to a mining operation after an environmental impact statement is released – even if the report does not support the land transfer. What should be a tool to help make a wise and sustainable decision has become a trigger that will decimate a sacred outdoor sanctuary and line the pockets of two foreign mining companies.
The fate of Chí’chil Biłdagoteel is in the hands of Congress. Don’t let a mining company destroy this sacred space and natural wonder with a crater that would be approximately the length of the National Mall and deep enough to stack two Washington Monuments. Be a champion of religious freedom by ensuring this Indigenous sacred sanctuary continues to be protected.
Not all sacred or holy land is marked with a steeple. We are asking you to pass the Save Oak Flat Act (H.R. 1884/S. 915) now!