Since it has been stated and made clear by myself and other tribal members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe that Oak Flat has no religious or cultural significance to our tribe, nor does it threaten our livelihood, it’s now the time to continue on with what will ultimately happen with Resolution Copper. In the past couple of months, rather than listening to hearsay, I decided to seek out the answers to the questions many of us had. In taking initiative, I found that the answers were right at my fingertips – it was as simple as attending public meetings, taking advantage of the tours being offered and communicating my concerns. Through this, it was made clear that there are strict laws and detailed regulations that the NEPA process requires and that special mining permits must be obtained. It was also made clear that as members of our community, we have a voice and an opportunity to engage with the company and the federal government who oversees the process of NEPA. We should also be aware that above all, the safety and well-being of all involved (workers and communities) is the most important. It is only after these things are considered that this mining project could begin.
I have to share with my community and neighbor friends that in my home it was brought up for discussion how block cave mining sounded scary and what the result of that environment might look like. I had to reassure my son and daughters that yes, with the most intelligent and sophisticated mining techniques that will be implemented it will be up to mother earth how the outcome will be. That’s why it is very important that we all come together and PRAY for a successful outcome. I remind my family and also encourage all that fear tactics that are used to prevent any project is a form of manipulating for one’s own gain. As tribal members with a strong cultural traditional core of prayer, we must stay informed and involved with Resolution Copper. Coming to the table of discussion and concerns, all based on facts promotes a unity of strength. So that all involved in the mining work force and families at home are safe.
When I mention safe at home, which in itself is a handful as our communities are faced with many sensitive issues. I encourage all tribal members not to fear our Tribal Government Leaders, as they must remember that the oath they took was to serve their people, serve with facts, fairness and honesty. I continue to applaud the tribal council members who have weighed out the facts, and lead with fairness and honesty. Though a special interest group with several of our leaders and tribal members decided to travel to Washington D.C. to speak out against the project, I commend the leaders and tribal members who made the decision to stay home and continue to address the more important issues facing our community today.
I extend my apologies to the mother/daughter from Washington State – who walked to support what they believed was the truth. I only wish that they were introduced to our elders who have provided truth to us. Our healings continue and our concerns and issues are still in need of being addressed. There is so much we have to deal with as a tribal community that we need to come together to combat the social ills and come together to make decisions that benefit the greater good of our community. I humble my little mind so that I along with many who gracefully accept change do not allow fear to cripple us as a community but rather allow truth to lead and guide us.
Karen Kitcheyan-Jones is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and currently resides in the Peridot District on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Jones was raised in her traditional Apache culture and was taught her Apache traditions by her late grandmother Mable Dosela-Kitcheyan. Karen Kitcheyan-Jones is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and currently resides in the Peridot District on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Jones was raised in her traditional Apache culture and was taught her Apache traditions by her late grandmother Mable Dosela-Kitcheyan.