The Tohono O’odham Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the Hopi Tribe sued the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. District Court on April 13 challenging the agency’s approval of a plan by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. to build the $1.9 billion Rosemont Copper Mine on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.
The lawsuit alleges the mine would deprive tribal members of access to ancestral praying grounds, destroy a critical part of their heritage including burial grounds and stop members from engaging in important cultural practices and religious traditions, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
“The Rosemont Copper project would destroy cultural and archeological sites on our traditional lands, including the graves of our ancestors,” Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward D. Manuel said in a statement. “Consider what it would be like if a foreign company proposed excavating Arlington National Cemetery. All Americans treasure this cemetery, just like our tribes treasure the land this mine will desecrate.”