American Indians Confront “Savage Anxieties”

December 26, 2014

Earlier this month, as part of the $585 billion defense bill for 2015, Congress passed a measure that would give lands sacred to American Indians in Arizona to a foreign company. The deal gives the Australian-English mining firm Rio Tinto 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in exchange for several other parcels so it can mine a massive copper deposit.

This week, Bill speaks with Robert A. Williams Jr., a professor specializing in American Indian law, about how deals such as the one with Rio Tinto are a part of American Indian’s tragic history of dispossession. “Very much like African-Americans, the history of America is taking away resources, whether it’s labor or whether it’s land from one racial group to give them to the dominate racial group,” Williams, who is of Lumbee Indian heritage, says.

He adds that the Arizona land set to become the “largest copper mine in the world” is one of the most sacred places of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. “These are folks that have been fighting the federal government over their land rights and cultural rights for a long time,” adding, “and here you have this little, small tribe of Apaches, one of the poorest tribes… trying to stop this.”

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