Congress Gives Native American Land to Foreign Corporation Using a Provision Placed in the NDAA

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) played a key role in adding a provision to the NDAA that Rio Tinto has been pursuing for decades, for use by Resolution Copper. Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tinto, which co-owns with Iran a uranium mine in Africa and which is 10-percent-owned by China. Rio Tinto has assured Congressional members it would provide an economic growth for America. Rio Tinto claims mining in Tonto will generate $61 billion in economic activity and 3,700 direct and indirect jobs over 40 years.

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The House may vote on the NDAA as soon as this week with rules included that would bar the Senate from amending the legislation. On Wednesday night, a last-minute effort to strip the land provision from the NDAA failed in the House Rules Committee, which voted to give one hour for debate over the NDAA in the House.

The Native American lands proposed to be given to Resolution Copper, in exchange for other lands, includes prime territory Apaches have used for centuries to gather medicinal plants and acorns, and it is near a spot known as Apache Leap, a summit that Apaches jumped from to avoid being killed by settlers in the late 19th century.

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Lands included in the plan will stop 1,500 feet short of Apache Leap and will not initially include an area known as Oak Flats, though, when it comes to the oaks, contradictory legal parameters are but a minor hurdle for a company like Resolution Copper to eventually drill there.

Resolution Copper has said its mining plan for the area has been filed with the National Forest Service and that it will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that supposedly protects federal lands.

Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe was saddened by news of the proposal, yet not all that surprised. “This is what will happen – the law in one area says there will be consultation, but the law in another area of the bill says the land exchange will happen within one year of enactment of this bill. So no matter what we’re doing within that one year, the consultation part won’t mean anything after one year. Because then it’s really theirs after that.”

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Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution vests Congress, and by extension the Executive and Judicial branches of our government, with the authority to engage in relations with the tribes, thereby firmly placing tribes within the constitutional fabric of our nation.

The Federal Indian Trust Responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” toward Indian tribes. The federal Indian trust responsibility is also a legally enforceable fiduciary obligation on the part of the United States to protect tribal lands, assets, and resources.

The Federal Government is a trustee of Indian property. In the United States there are three types of reserved federal lands:  military, public, and Indian.  A federal Indian reservation is an area of land reserved for a tribe or tribes under treaty or other agreement with the United States, executive order, or federal statute or administrative action as permanent tribal homelands, and where the federal government holds title to the land in trust on behalf of the tribe.

Other types of Indian lands include allotted lands, which are remnants of reservations broken up during the federal allotment period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today, 10,059,290.74 million acres of individually owned lands are still held in trust for allotees and their heirs.

The 2015 NDAA contains other land deals, including one that would subject 70,000 acres of Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and another provision that would give 1,600 acres from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State for purposes of industrial development, a plan that has spurred tribal protest.

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The Veterans Party of America abhors this violation of trust between the federal government and the people of our nation. This is clearly an abuse of powers to grant a corporation, especially foreign corporation, the right to use land, sacred to the Native American people. As we have stated before, ANY group of Americans can become targets of this corrupted two party system of elected officials which no longer represent the people.

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