Save Oak Flat

Protect sacred land!

What if your elected officials told you that your sacred place mattered less than that of a different congregation nearby? That’s the issue facing the San Carlos Apache Tribe in their struggle to save their sacred land Chí’chil Biłdagoteel — loosely translated in English as “Oak Flat.” Currently protected within Tonto National Forest, this oasis an hour east of Phoenix is threatened with destruction: If the federal government gives Oak Flat to the mining company Resolution Copper, the area will be permanently destroyed. And time is running out.

BJC is fighting to save Chí’chil Biłdagoteel, and we invite you to join us.

We built a coalition of more than 100 religious and religious freedom organizations to advocate for this land that’s sacred to the Apache as well as the Yavapai, Hopi, Zuni, and many other Tribes in the Southwest. 

Only Congress can permanently save Oak Flat, and BJC supports the Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act (H.R. 1351to protect this sacred land. Scroll down for more information on how you can contact your member of Congress.

Click here for an update on this work from May 2023, and read about a lower court decision in 2024. Keep scrolling for ways you can support the faith freedom of our Indigenous neighbors. 

What is Oak Flat? 

What are the religious, environmental, historical, and other reasons groups are working to save this land?

Check out our one-page resource to learn more.

Contact your member of Congress

Only Congress can permanently save Oak Flat. 

You can contact your members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act (H.R. 1351. Here’s a sample script:

Hello, my name is [Name]. I am a constituent and am calling to ask Representative [Name] to co-sponsor the Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act. Oak Flat is an ancient sacred site for the Apache and several other tribes in the Southwest. The federal government is giving the land to a foreign mining operation that will totally destroy this holy ground. Oak Flat’s sacredness is not lessened because their tradition does not build a steeple to mark it. Will Rep. [Name] co-sponsor the Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act?

BJC sent a letter to the 117th Congress in support of the bill introduced to that session called the Save Oak Flat Act (H.R. 1884/S. 915). Read the letter and learn more here

Ways to get involved

There are numerous reasons to protect Oak Flat, but the religious freedom community must be clear: The sacredness of holy ground is not lessened because the Indigenous do not have a tradition of building a steeple to mark the spot.

BJC has a list of 18 ways you can take action to support Oak Flat for Earth Day. But, these can be done at any time! Whether you need to educate yourself on the issue, are ready to be an advocate or want to recruit others to the cause, there’s something for everyone!

Take the #OakFlatChallenge

How big is 1.8 miles? What comes to mind when you think of that much space? How can you describe it?

Most of us have a hard time imagining just how massive this devastating hole in the ground will be that would swallow Chí’chil Biłdagoteel. That’s why BJC created the #OakFlatChallenge: Let the world know how much sacred land might be sacrificed for mining!

The challenge simply asks you to reflect and share what would be lost if a crater with a 1.8-mile diameter formed in your neighborhood.

Spread the word on social media

Let others know about this issue and why you are passionate about protecting the sacred land of Chí’chil Biłdagoteel. There are posts on social media from the bill introduced in the previous Congress about the size and depth of the crater, as well as the reasons to support Oak Flat. Here are links to a few, but search the #SaveOakFlat hashtag for more!

Support this vital work

Your gifts to BJC bolster our advocacy efforts for BJC to answer this call and use our voice and coalition-building skills to stand with the San Carlos Apache Tribe and all others who hold Oak Flat as sacred.