Ripples from Juukan: WA traditional owners back Arizona tribe fighting Rio Tinto – by Hamish Hastie (Sydney Morning Herald – March 8, 2021)

The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people have thrown their support behind a North American first nations tribe locked in a battle with a Rio Tinto-owned copper miner.

San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona have fought Resolution Copper’s plans to build one of the world’s biggest copper mines on sacred land known as Oak Flat for a decade, but regulators have supported the land swap necessary for the mine to go ahead.

Resolution Copper is a joint subsidiary of Australian miners BHP and Rio Tinto, with the latter company drawing international condemnation in May 2020 after destroying the Juukan Gorge rock shelters to expand its Brockman 4 mine. The rock shelters contained evidence of 46,000 years of human habitation.

In an open letter from the PKKP, who were the traditional owners of the Juukan Gorge land in the Pilbara, said their devastation had rippled across the globe like a ‘big stone dropped into water’ and highlighted how undervalued First Nations heritage was.

“It reflects what we have already told the Joint Standing Committee here in Australia, that Aboriginal culture and heritage is undervalued here and throughout the world,” the PKKP statement read.

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