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‘Spiritual convoy’ arrives in San Francisco ahead of Friday court hearing on Oak Flat

Ryan Heinsius

Several members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and others have arrived in San Francisco in what they’re calling a “spiritual convoy.” They’re urging a federal appeals court to block a copper mine slated for a sacred site. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

For nearly two weeks, members of the group Apache Stronghold have held events in Arizona and California in the lead-up to Friday’s hearing before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. They’ve met with other tribes, spoken at schools and churches and held prayer rallies.

The group’s attorneys will ask the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the federal government to stop the Resolution Copper mine near the town of Superior. They argue a 2014 federal land swap that paved the way for potentially one of the largest copper mines in North America would destroy Oak Flat, an Apache sacred site, and violate the tribe’s free exercise of religion.

Some elected officials including Republican Governor Doug Ducey, however, argue the mine would have a sizable economic impact and create jobs.

The Biden administration halted the 2,500-acre land swap as it entered its final stages earlier this year for environmental and cultural review and tribal consultation.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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