Prayer Rising at Oak Flat

Last month, I traveled to Arizona to join Apache Stronghold and the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery for a day of Prayer Rising at Oak Flat. Oak Flat is a sacred place for the San Carlos Apache, where they lived and prayed for time immemorial before being forced onto a nearby reservation by the U.S. Government where they were not allowed to practice their religion, ceremony, or language. Compounding this grave injustice, the government is ready to transfer the land to a mining company that will destroy the site to mine copper—turning this sacred site into a two-mile-wide sinkhole.

Oak Flat is a spiritual battle for Sacred Land. Dr. Winsler Noiser Sr., former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, says: “This is the oldest place for us when it comes to our identity, culture, and religion.” — “I want people in America to wake up”.

During Oak Flat Prayer Rising, faith leaders from across the country were invited to this sacred place to join Apache Stronghold in their righteous struggle. The day included hearing from many Indigenous speakers about the importance of the Hoop of Life and how it has been broken through exploitation and greed, capitalism and colonialism. There was also a call for faith leaders, an opportunity to enter into the responsibilities we bear as settlers to the people of this Land.
Together, faith leaders sang songs and read liturgies of lament and resistance. We embarked on a prayer walk to the road that leads to the current Resolution Copper mine, where we took a handful of ashes and spread them across the road. This was done as a symbol of repentance on behalf of Resolution Copper and a call for them to halt their destructive intentions. Prayers were also written on ribbons and then dipped in water from Mt.Graham, a sister sacred site in Arizona. These ribbons were then tied to trees along the road near the mine entrance as a reminder

The struggle for Oak Flat is a symptom of a disease that has become commonplace in our society today: the desecration of the Sacred for profit. “Resolution Copper taking away Oak Flat is taking away our life, taking away our history and taking away our future” Naelyn Pike, Apache Stronghold member.

Here are some actions you can take (from the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery):

  1. Pray: join the power of your spirit with Apache prayer to strengthen the grounding of this work.  
  2. Spread the word: share what you know about the Oak Flat case with friends, family, and your community. Organize for prayer and action.
  3. Contact your elected officials and urge support of the Save Oak Flat Act.
  4. Follow Apache Stronghold (on Instagram or Facebook) for updates and further actions you can take. Amplify their voice by liking and sharing their content
William Morris  a Faith Organizer with GreenFaith US and the Chair of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA). William is a dedicated environmental advocate holding a degree in environmental science with an emphasis on ecological restoration from Humboldt State University. William channels his passion for environmental stewardship and faith into impactful initiatives. His work has been featured in outlets such as Rolling Stone Magazine, BBC, and ABC News.
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