“As a result of the mine, Ce:wi Duag (Santa Rita Mountains) will be forever degraded and our peoples’ traditions associated with this area will be lost forever. In my view the destruction of cultural sites and landscapes on this scale is nothing short of cultural genocide.”
— Dr. Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation
The Cienega Valley and site of the proposed Rosemont Mine has been — and continues to be — a place where cultural identities and traditions are sustained. Prehistoric peoples used the mine site extensively. Recent archaeological investigations found 85 historic sites that would be directly or indirectly impacted by the mine and associated infrastructure.
According to the Tohono O’odham Legislative Council’s Resolution opposing the mine, “The proposed location of the Rosemont Copper Project is on the Nation’s ancestral lands and would signi cantly impact, destroy, or alter cultural and archeological sites containing numerous Archaic, Hohokam, and O’odham funeral objects, sacred objects and other archaeological and cultural items, as well as permanently alter the cultural and natural landscape of the area.”
A letter from the Tohono O’odham Cultural A airs Program in February, 2010, to then Forest Supervisor Jeanine Derby states, “The Santa Rita Mountains have been and are still used as a place for the Tohono O’odham to go to visit the sites of their ancestors, to collect basket-making materials, to collect plant medicines, to hunt and collect plant foods, and to visit shrines. If this mine development is allowed to move forward, the Tohono O’odham use of the area would no longer be possible.”
None of the 12 tribal nations and communities that were consulted on the project signed a mitigation agreement with the Forest Service under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
A key historical tradition of the Cienega Valley is ranching, an activity that remains important to this day. The grasslands of the Cienega Valley represent some of the best rangeland in Arizona, and many families in the valley rely on ranching for their livelihood and cultural identity. The exhibit introduces just a few of the ranchers working in the Cienega Valley south and east of the mine site.