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Federal appeals court upholds land swap that gave Tribal sacred site to mining company

A federal appeals court ruled that a federal land swap giving a Native American tribal holy site in Arizona to a private mining company so it could be the site of a copper mine would not violate the tribe’s religious freedoms.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision affirmed a lower court ruling that federal officials could exchange Oak Flat, a place significant to many Apaches, to become the site of a mine, without violating tribal members’ free exercise protections under the U.S. Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 religious liberty law.

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