'It's who we are': Apache people take fight for sacred site to federal court
October 21, 2021
The Biden administration is facing a major test of its commitment to sacred sites as citizens of the San Carlos Apache Tribe head to court in a long-running battle to protect one of their most important places.
Tribal citizens have been going to Oak Flat since time immemorial to pray, hold ceremonies, gather food and engage in other religious activities. The site, known as Chi’chil Biłdagoteel in the Apache language, plays a central role in the health and well-being of the San Carlos people.
“We Apache — it’s who we are,” San Carlos citizen Vanessa Nosie said on Tuesday in explaining the importance of protecting the land. “Our religion, our identity. It makes us who we are.”