1,000 signatures reached
To: The U.S. Forest Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture
We Condemn The Desecration Of An Apache Nation Sacred Site
We write as people of faith and moral conscience--Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Apache, and people of other faiths and not of faith--to condemn the immoral and unconstitutional hate crime committed against an Apache Nation sacred site on March 17, 2018 in Oak Flat, Arizona. Four crosses were hacked and destroyed and a vehicle desecrated a prayer site leaving tire marks on the site and scattered ceremonial eagle feathers.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, which is co-organized by hundreds of people and groups from over 30 states, the District of Columbia, the Apache Nation, and other areas, demands an immediate investigation and response from the U.S. Forest Service Agency and federal law enforcement officials who have jurisdiction of the Oak Flat area. As of today, the U.S. Forest Service Agency has failed to respond to request by the people of the Apache Nation to investigate past desecrations of the Apache holy site as a hate crime against the Apache people and their spiritual practice.
“This site is like a church. If this attack had happened at a church, it would be considered a crime,” said Wendsler Nosie, a leader from the Apache Stronghold and a local leader of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival. “People come to this sacred site to be healed from sickness and for their loved ones, asking for blessings. Throughout the year, this has been a site for families to gather and teach their children about the land. There are federal laws that are supposed to protect a place like this. We have never seen this kind of violence against us here. There needs to be accountability for this crime.”
Why is this important?
Under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) the U.S. government is required to protect the religious freedom of “Native Americans” (indigenous people), “including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.” We write as diverse people of this nation--black, brown, white, Apache, gay, straight, transgender, poor, young, old, able bodied and non-able bodied--to demand immediate action from the U.S. Forest Service Agency and federal law enforcement officials who have jurisdiction to investigate the desecrated crosses and feathers in Oak Flat/Tonto National Forest, which falls under the jurisdiction of AIRFA and the U.S. Forest Service Agency.