An American Battle Cry: The Documentary
The San Carlos Apache and Arizona residents defend unique, sacred, and ecologically sensitive land from a foreign mega-mining project.
URGENT REQUEST: After a 15 month-long effort to document the events impacting Oak Flat, we have reached a critical juncture in the production of our film, "An American Battle Cry:..." We must raise at LEAST $8,000 as soon as possible in order to complete this historic project. Right now we are well over half finished, and your generous donation will allow us to:
- Film the one-year anniversary of the 45-mile march from the San Carlos Apache Reservation to Oak Flat campground, taking place February 25-26, 2016 (check dates) Film the March 2016 global Indigenous gathering on Oak Flat, to which the president of Bolivia has been invited by the Apache people.
- Gather the finall interviews and pay for external media.
- Finish recording the music and animations to be featured in the film.
- Complete editing and post production in a timely, relevant manner
- Allow us to obtain film distribution for immediate audience awareness of the issues and lives at stake
We will use our completed film to generate community dialog and education about the dangerous consequences and impact of block cave mining. Our goal is to ensure that the communities impacted understand both the upside in terms of economic growth, and more importantly, the downsides of environmental and cultural devastation of protected and sacred land.
Through a shady congressional maneuver, Arizona Senator John McCain attached a controversial land bill to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that will place 2400 acres of protected and known sacred land into the hands of the infamous British mega-mining corporation, Rio Tinto. In doing so, Senator McCain and his cohorts displayed a blatant disregard for the religious and cultural beliefs of the San Carlos Apache Nation, who consider this area sacred and still perform ceremonies there.
Also, nearby residents in Queen Valley and Superior, AZ are outraged as this project threatens to impact their quality of life. The project would push tourism dollars away, lower real estate values and create serious health risks, especially for those living next to the 1.6 billion tons of toxic tailings waste that Rio Tinto plans to dump between these two communities.
The extraction would take place in a region of riparian high-desert, located in central Arizona on the edge of the Superstition Mountains. Known as “Oak Flat” for the acorn producing trees that grow there, this land has been federally protected from mining since 1955 by presidential order. Because of the water-rich canyons and breathtaking views, this area is a favorite for wildlife lovers, photographers, ATVers, and rock climbers around the country.
Oak Flat is bordered on the west by Apache Leap, a massive cliff face that signifies a decisive turning point in battle between the Apache and the enterprising settlers. According to legend, the Apache warriors chose to jump to their deaths rather than to be captured during a merciless surprise attack by the Arizona Volunteers and Maricopa Scouts.
Importantly, archeologists claim this area as the largest Apache historic site in America, containing many ancient ruins, burials, and prehistoric petroglyphs.
Unfortunately this land is also situated above what has been discovered to be the largest copper ore deposit in North America. And, in the interest of maximizing profit, Rio Tinto plans to utilize the highly destructive “block-cave” mining method. This method relies heavily on robotics and would transform Oak Flat into a 2.5 mile wide sink hole, 1000’ deep at the center.
This sneak-attack legislation has drawn a nationwide outcry, infuriating rock climbers, conservationists, and 400 tribes across America who stand in solidarity with the Apache to keep this land protected. As the bill was slipping through the Senate, headlines broke in the Huffington Post, Rueters, and Aljazeera America.
Immediately citizens of the United States began to flood government offices with phone calls and petitions expressing their outrage. In fact, the White House website was inundated with over 100,000 signatures urging President Obama to do a by-line veto and strike the land exchange rider of the Defense Act. But alas, money speaks louder than us all!
In this informative and emotion-charged documentary, director Ezekiel Kelly is working along side local residents, the San Carlos Apache Nation, and conservation groups, to meticulously convey the beauty and rich cultural heritage of Oak Flat as a petition for its defense. It will begin with the Apache creation story and it’s connection to Chich’il Bildagoteel, the ancient name given to this land. It will then describe some of the ceremonies that are still being carried out there to this day.
It will continue with the harrowing tale of Apache Leap, where the final conflict with the cavalry occurred according to the legend. Drone-captured footage and literary evidence, along with interviews of archaeologists will be presented in an effort to explore the truth behind this popular story, which is often refuted to diminish the significance of this land by the pro-mine agenda.
Brought into modern day, stunning footage of rock climbers and wildlife from the area is captured alongside interviews with people concerned about the future of this valuable recreational resource. Through the experience of this film, the viewer will clearly see why this particular piece of America has been protected since 1955 by the order of President Eisenhower.
In juxtaposition, the film will also show how this protection has been overrun by a foreign financial interest. It exposes the methods that Rio Tinto employs to "get the job done" no matter what the environmental or humanitarian costs may be. From Indonesia to West Africa to India, Rio Tinto has been the subject of severe criticism for its callous disregard of human rights and unnecessarily destructive mining practices. It will clearly show how alternative methods of mining can be used, which would preserve the land while providing more economic benefit for America.
This film will follow the company in its campaign for legitimacy in the face of global accusations for assassination, genocide and large-scale bribery. It will go further to explore the roots of their financial power and how they have intertwined themselves to governments in order to build an empire that operates above the law. From a front-line perspective in a little Arizona mining town, the viewer will experience a seemingly futile struggle between big money and the common people in a 21st century David vs. Goliath battle.
Risks and challenges
Currently we are about 15 months into the project and have filmed extensive interviews the main players in this fight. Scheduling has been difficult because they have recently been in a scramble to stop this surprise-attack legislation. We have documented the public events surrounding the controversy and accumulated substantial footage showcasing the beauty of Oak Flat with both conventional and drone photography. Along the way, we have been documenting and reporting environmental violations as we find them occurring. We are also learning of the challenges the Apache people face in trying to preserve their traditions in a world that demands so much compromise. We have found out the hard way about how much influence Rio Tinto has in local politics. Many obstacles have been deliberately thrown in our way, but so far we have found ways around them. Ultimately, we hope to get this film touring through schools and festivals around the world, but right now this work is already increasing consciousness of this issue and keeping an eye on what is going on with Rio Tinto at Oak Flat.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)