Tribes sue feds over Rosemont Mine, citing ‘irreversible’ damage to sacred sites

By Tony Davis | Arizona Daily Star

The proposed Rosemont Mine will “irreparably sever” three Indian tribes’ connection to the Santa Rita Mountains and devastate a rich cultural tradition dating back to 7,500 B.C., the tribes say in a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service says the mine would deprive tribal members of access to ancestral praying grounds, destroy a critical part of their heritage including burial grounds, and stop members from engaging in important cultural practices and religious traditions.

The $1.9 billion mine would be built at this site in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. /Kelly Presnell /Arizona Daily Star file

The Tohono O’odham, Pascua-Yaqui and Hopi tribes filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court, about 10 months after the Forest Service approved the $1.9 billion mine project.

It’s the third suit facing the mine. The others were filed by environmental groups and other parties who allege the open-pit copper mine will violate environmental laws including the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

The newest lawsuit explains the tribes’ views about their historic, spiritual and cultural connection to this area, and their use of it, in far more detail than the tribes usually provide, a Tohono O’odham spokesman said. Those include religious rituals and the gathering of plants and grasses.


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April 2018