Press Release

Apache Stronghold back in court fighting for Oak Flat Ninth Circuit to rehear appeal of Native Americans and their allies on March 21

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – A group of Western Apaches, tribal leaders, faith leaders, National Congress of American Indians, and grassroots organizations are headed back to federal court to protect the Apaches’ most sacred site from complete destruction by a foreign-owned mining company. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments again in Apache Stronghold v. United States after the court decided last fall to hear the case “en banc” — in front of a full panel of eleven judges. Becket’s Luke Goodrich and attorneys Michael V. Nixon and Clifford Levenson are defending the Apaches’ right to continue their longstanding religious practices at Oak Flat.

Since time immemorial, Western Apaches have come to Oak Flat for their most important and longstanding religious ceremonies that cannot take place anywhere else. The sacred site is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been protected from mining and other destructive practices for decades. In 2014, however, the government ordered Oak Flat to be sold to Resolution Copper, a foreign-owned mining company that plans to turn the site into a two-mile-wide and 1,100-foot-deep crater. Apache Stronghold—a coalition of Apaches, tribal leaders, faith leaders, the National Congress of American Indians, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and grassroots organizations—sued the federal government to halt the demolition of Oak Flat.

After the Ninth Circuit ruled against them last summer, the court reconsidered its decision—giving Oak Flat another chance. Apache Stronghold asks the court to protect Oak Flat just as it would protect any church, mosque, or synagogue from government destruction.


Oral argument in Apache Stronghold v. United States


Luke Goodrich, vice president & senior counsel at Becket

Attorneys Michael V. Nixon and Clifford Levenson


Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. PDT


Listen to the live stream here:

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – YouTube U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

125 S Grand AvePasadena, CA, 91105Courtroom 3

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Mandarin, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.