A sacred Native American site at Oak Flat, in the Tonto National Forest, has been desecrated, a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity said.
The vandalism at Oak Flat, about an hour east of Phoenix, was discovered on March 17. Four crosses at an Apache holy site had been destroyed and ceremonial eagle feathers were left on the ground, the release said.
The release describes the scene: “Two of the crosses were missing, ripped from the ground and two of the crosses have been left standing, but destroyed with what appears to be an ax.” There were large tire tracks in the surrounding dirt.
The Tonto National Forest has sent Forest Service law enforcement officers to investigate the incident, Forest Service spokeswoman Carrie Templin said in a Monday email.
Wendsler Nosie, a former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, said the Oak Flat site is “like a church.”
“There are federal laws that are supposed to protect a place like this,” he said in the release. “We have never seen this kind of violence against us here. There needs to be accountability for this crime.”
Anyone with information that could be related to the vandalism should call Officer Robert Shelton at 928-402-6250 or the Tonto National Forest main office at 602-225-5200.
“The Tonto National Forest takes this seriously,” Neil Bosworth, Tonto National Forest Supervisor, said in a prepared statement.