Thursday, June 16, 2011

Activists locked down on San Francisco Peaks


Two activists have been arrested, one Dineh, one non-Native. Six to eight others remain locked down and are negotiating with the police.

UPDATED Thursday Night:
Six activists were eventually arrested. See updates on Censored News and at end of this post.
Activists locked down on destruction equipment

Updates are coming fastest via Brenda Norrell at Censored News, Twitter, and contacts on-site. Facebook is censoring Brenda Norrell's updates again.

Press release via LOCKED DOWN: Protest halts Snowbowl destruction on San Francisco Peaks

Thursday morning, June 16, 2011
Contact: Beth Lavely
Tel: 928.254.1064


Today we take direct action to stop further desecration and destruction of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. We stand with our ancestors, with allies and with those who also choose to embrace diverse tactics to safeguard Indigenous People’s cultural survival, our community’s health, and this sensitive mountain ecosystem.

On May 25th 2011, sanctioned by the US Forest Service, owners of Arizona Snowbowl began further destruction and desecration of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Snowbowl’s hired work crews have laid over a mile and a half of the planned 14.8 mile wastewater pipeline. They have cut a six foot wide and six foot deep gash into the Holy Mountain. Although a current legal battle is under appeal, Snowbowl owners have chosen to undermine judicial process by rushing to construct the pipeline. Not only do they disregard culture, environment, and our children’s health, they have proven that they are criminals beyond reproach.

Four weeks of desecration has already occurred. Too much has already been taken. Today, tomorrow and for a healthy future, we say “enough!” As we take action, we look to the East and see Bear Butte facing desecration, Mt. Taylor facing further uranium mining; to the South, Mt. Graham desecrated, South Mountain threatened, the US/Mexico border severing Indigenous communities from sacred places; to the West, inspiring resistance at Sogorea Te, Moana Keya facing desecration; to the North, Mt. Tenabo, Grand Canyon, Black Mesa, and so many more… our homelands and our culture under assault.

We thought that the USDA, heads of the Forest Service, had meant it when they initiated nationwide listening sessions to protect sacred places. If the process was meaningful, we would not have to take action today.

More than 13 Indigenous Nations hold the Peaks Holy. The question has been asked yet we hear no response, “what part of sacred don’t you understand?”

For hundreds of years resistance to colonialism, slavery, & destruction of Mother Earth has existed and continues here in what we now call Arizona.

The United States recently moved to join the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, evidently the US has not currently observed and acted upon this declaration, otherwise we would not be taking action today. This document informs our action, we also assert that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples supports the basis for our action:
“Article 11, 1: Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

“Article 11, 2: States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.

“Article 12, 1: Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.

“Article 25: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard."

For nearly 4 decades, resistance to desecration and destruction of the Peaks has been sustained. Prayer vigils, petitions, lobbying, protests, and many diverse tactics have been embraced. Historic court battles have been fought.

We continue today resisting Snowbowl’s plan to spray millions of gallons of wastewater snow, which is filled with cancer causing and other harmful contaminants, as well as clear-cut over 30,000 trees. The Peaks are a pristine and beautiful place, a fragile ecosystem, and home to rare and endangered species of plants and animals.

Our action is a prayer.

We invite those of you who could not join us today and who believe in the protection of culture, the environment and community health to resist destruction and desecration of the Peaks:

- Join us and others in physically stopping all Snowbowl development!
- Honor and defend Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to protect Sacred Places.
- Resist colonialism and capitalism! Embrace diverse tactics to end Snowbowl’s and all corporate greed.
- Demand USDA end Snowbowl’s Special Use Permit.
- Demand that the City of Flagstaff Mayor and Council find a way out of their contract to sell wastewater to Snowbowl.
- Demand that Arizona Department of Environmental Quality change its permission allowing wastewater to be used for snowmaking.

KUYI Hopi Radio is covering the protests live.
Streaming radio:
KUYI updates on twitter:!/KUYI

From their website:
Snowbowl Pipeline Protest

Developing Story: 9am PT

At sunrise Thursday June 16 2011 six protestors chained themselves together at the trench site off U.S. Highway 180 and Snowbowl Road. Four chained themselves together in trencher & tree removal machinery and two to each other in the pipeline trench itself. Approximately one hour ago two protestors attached to the axle of a bulldozer were removed and taken into custody. As of one half hour ago the two protestors in the trench were in the process of being removed. Snowbowl Road was closed off by protest supporters and remains closed & a work stoppage remains in effect.

Flagstaff Police Department, Coconino County Sheriff Officers, Flagstaff Fire Department and Paramedics are on site.

"Protect The Peaks" contact and self proclaimed "police liaison" Beth Lavely states shortly after the action began Snowbowl-contracted security arrived at approximately 5:30am and that the first FPD officer arrived on scene approximately 15 minutes later. Ms. Lavely estimates approximately 20 law enforcement personnel remain and that this protest puts into action the "Human right of all indigenous people to protect their sacred sites". Lavely mentioned that "the majority of officers have been respectful of the protestors. I might even call a few sympathetic."


Initial early morning phone calls and email to the offices of AZ Snowbowl have not yet been returned.

Stay tuned to KUYI for updates as we confirm them.

Update 1:05pm, EDT: Six people have now been cut away from the equipment and arrested. First two arrested are on way to County jail.

Update 3:06pm, EDT: Received word about an hour ago that six people have been arrested, including four Native Americans. They should be at the county jail by now. They need help with bail money. Will update again when I have a contact for bail fund.

Update 9:45pm, EDT: Brenda Norrell reports that everyone's bail is covered but to keep the donations coming at Indigenous Action to cover the legal expenses.

Last I heard, two activists were out on bail, with four still in jail and a rally going on outside.

So far, mainstream media coverage of the action has been biased and culturally clueless, with most stories simply picking up the AP line, and not even mentioning why the activists were there - to defend a sacred site from desecration and devastation. Most coverage has omitted the fact that this is holy ground for thirteen tribes, that Indigenous people hold ceremonies there, and that the proposed development would douse herbal medicines, utilized by traditional healers, with sewage water.

More details: Media Watch: Snowbowl and racism in the media

Photos from protest.

All photos courtesy Censored News

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