This is a really good book, beautifully written and fairly presented. It is partially about the atrocities committed to indigenous peoples, but more about them trying to defend their sacred lands from multinational mining exploitation. Drawings and artwork throughout only make the message more poignant.
Here are some random bits that I tabbed to share with you:
- There is quoted a letter from Brigadier General James Carleton in 1862 to ask for troops to murder all the Apaches to get at the precious metals in the area, especially copper. But extermination as a policy proved to be inefficient. An educational system designed to destroy Native culture was proposed as an economical way to solve the “Indian problem. The 1868 report concluded, “It costs less to civilize than to kill.”
- Conditions in San Carlos were so merciless that the army strictly limited periods of deployment. But Natives were prohibited from leaving. If the Apache left their reservation, they were routinely hunted down and killed. “The San Carlos Apache Reservation was established on November 9, 1871. It is the world’s first concentration camp still existing to this day.”
- We use copper in increasing amounts and not just in piping and computer chips. The average conventional car requires 55 pounds of copper; an electric car triples that.
- The ore that is mined is 1.5% copper. After the copper has been extracted, billions of tons of contaminated waste remains, leaving pools of blood red water, with the smell of sulfur permeating the air, and arsenic dust wafting over the town and settling into the soil. Arsenic and lead accumulate in huge piles of mine waste. Concerns about water contamination do not end when the mines is exhausted but are lasting, and mining companies are poster children for corporate malfeasance.
- Native Americans were not allowed to eat inside restaurants until the 1980’s…
This is the story of Resolution Copper trying to extract $144 billion worth of copper from beneath Apache sacred lands. The book ends with no resolution, but you feel it is inevitable, because we’ve screwed the indigenous peoples at every turn, so do we really think we’ll change now?
Indeed, two years after this book’s 2020 publication date, Biden signed the approval for a mine on this sacred spot to be two miles wide and 1000 feet (like one skyscraper) deep. This is so sad and sets a dangerous precedent effecting all sacred sites. If this place is destroyed in the name of greed and temporary consumption, it could happen to others. Something to pray about for sure!
I’d like to read something else by this author. I give Oak Flat five stars for fairly presenting the facts, in a humane and engaging way.