Manifest Destiny,the idea that American could and had the divine providence to usurp whatever lands they needed and remove whomever they needed in order to expand their own reaches. Or, as comedian Maria Bamford quipped, “Manifest Destiny: It feels like it’s mine.” American relationships with Native American tribes has been rather one-sided affairs throughout much of history, however it had seemed as though there was a detente of sorts; or more optimistically, that America was seeking to right the wrongs of the past.
Apparently that all stopped with the signing of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act. In its most recent iteration, Senators McCain and Flake from Arizona inserted a non-germane rider that gave away sacred apache land to a mining company. A company from which both received campaign donations and for whom Flake used to lobby.
Can we imagine a world where a world government would give away sacred land to Christians for commercial purposes and not face tremendous outrage? What if we flat-top mined Mt. Sinai? Bulldozed Bethlehem? Turned Jerusalem into rows of cookie-cutter houses? No. We simply cannot imagine that because the country would go into an uproar should any legislators have been foolish enough to try and pass such a bill. But that is precisely what is going to happen in Oak Flat, Arizona.
The San Carlos Apache have used the Oak Flat area as an outdoor place of worship for centuries occupied the land long before we started to record history. This is not some small shrine, this is a large and ancient sacred site that the mining company would like to obliterate in search of profits. And to top it all off, the site also serves as a burial site for Native American ancestors.
McCain and Flake stand by their decision despite backlash arguing that the copper is necessary for the maintenance of equipment for the troops and assert that the Native Americans can access the site for many more years until the mining company needs the land. What a crock of crap. Both senators ought to be ashamed of themselves for so callously calling for the destruction of an ancient Native American shrine.
Thankfully the backlash has been strong. A petition to the White House received over 100,00 signatures; the threshold to get an official response. A second petition to Congress calling on them to repeal the order has gained over 1 million signatures. Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona is beginning to lead the charge in Congress.
Certainly it would be near impossible politically to repeal the entire NDAA; however a separate piece of legislation can undo the contract. And should undo the contract. There is no excuse for such flagrant disregard of religious liberty and religious freedom. Let’s hope that Congress gets its act together or the White House moves quickly to save such a sacred place.
Information for this post was gathered from the January 12th episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and