Why Oak Flat in Arizona is a sacred space for the Apache and other Native Americans

By Alejandra Molina, Emily McFarlan Miller, Religion News Service
March 16, 2021

Waya Brown, barefoot and clad in a flicker-feather headdress and red-tailed hawk cape, waved a handful of feathers toward the ground. 

Brown, who is Apache and Pomo, twirled in a circle as he blew a double cane whistle.

His father rattled a bamboo stick and sang in the Pomo language, while his aunt pounded on a deerskin drum. His sister and cousins danced in place as they all blessed the ground and those surrounding the circle.

This was the scene on Feb. 27 at Chi'chil Biłdagoteel, known widely as Oak Flat, as the Brown family offered a prayer from the Pomo tradition to bless the Apache sacred site that's at risk of being turned over to Resolution Copper, an Australian mining venture.

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