Aug 29 2011
Dozens of Indigenous residents have turned out for protests and direct actions, and 26 participants have been arrested since July 26 in defense of the mountain known as the Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona, d The Havasupai, Navajo, and Hopi Tribes are only three of many groups that are fighting to limit the environmental degradation of the Sacred San Francisco Peaks, in Northern Arizona, a significant state landmark and ancestral land for the Hopi. On August 19th the Hopi Tribe filed a lawsuit against the City of Flagstaff, challenging the legality of selling reclaimed waste water to the Snowbowl ski resort, which will be made into artificial snow. The Hopi tribe and its supporters say the contract violates state laws regarding the handling of waste water because contamination of areas around Snowbowl resort cannot be prevented. Artificial snow is sprayed onto ski areas, and when it melts it becomes run-off. Reclaimed waste water is harmful to humans, animals, and the environment because it contains various chemicals, including endocrine disruptors that damage the reproductive health and nervous systems of living things. Opponents estimate that up to 1.5 million gallons of this recycled water will be used daily by the Snowbowl resort, and 100 million gallons may be used over the course of a ski season. The International Indian Treaty Council also filed a an Urgent Action/ Early Warning complaint on August 17th with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or UN CERD, regarding the Peaks. It argues that the United States of America and Sacred San Francisco Peaks, Arizona, owned by the US Forest Service, have violated the human rights of the area’s Indigenous populations. The violations include “environmental and spiritual vandalism” and “aggression” and “harassment” against peaceful protestors. In 2006 a number of tribes along with the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the US Forest Service, challenging its approval of a permit by Snowbowl to expand, and to use treated waste water. After three hearings the coalition lost the lawsuit. Forty acres of alpine forest have been clear-cut, and 5 miles of a total 14.8 miles of pipeline have so far been laid to transport waste water up the Sacred Peaks.
GUEST: Klee Benally, an activist, from the Navajo nation on Black Mesa Reservation, currently living in Flagstaff, Arizona