During a visit to the Navajo Nation on Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was met with protesters upset about a toxic waste spill at a Colorado mine that contaminated the San Juan River.
Protesters held signs that read “McCain = Indian Killer” and “McCain’s Not Welcome Here” as the senator joined Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) for celebrations at Navajo Code Talker Day in Window Rock, Arizona, according to Phoenix television station KPNX.
McCain also encountered protesters yelling “Get off our land” as he left a meeting with state officials and Navajo Nation leaders. According to the Phoenix New Times, McCain was “chased off” by the protesters. Yet the senator’s office disputed that characterization in a Monday statement to the paper.
“Senator McCain was honored to be invited by the Navajo Nation to meet with tribal and community leaders and to speak at the celebration of the Navajo Code Talkers on Friday. It was a great visit and he received a very warm reception from the Navajo community in Window Rock,” a McCain spokesman said in the statement. “He certainly wasn’t ‘chased off’ the reservation – this small group of young protesters had no practical impact on his productive meetings with top tribal leaders on a range of key issues, including the EPA’s recent Gold King Mine spill which threatens to contaminate the Navajo Nation’s water supply.”
High schooler Adriano Tsinigine also managed to pose for a photo with McCain while holding a sign that read “Protect Oak Flat,” according to the Huffington Post. The senator supported a measure that sold Oak Flat, part of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, to foreign mining companies. When McCain noticed Tsinigine’s sign, he told the high schooler he had to leave, according to video of the moment posted by Paper Rocket Productions.