Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Racism and Invisible Indians in the James Ray Trial

James Arthur Ray has been found guilty of three counts of Negligent Homicide

I join with the many activists who have followed this trial in being relieved we have a verdict of guilty. Like my colleagues, I would have preferred the manslaughter conviction, which carries a longer sentence. But at least Ray has been found guilty of causing the deaths of three human beings through his negligence. He will do time. May this serve as a deterrent to the other frauds and exploiters out there.

James Arthur Ray exploited Native people by mimicking their ceremonies and selling them for obscene amounts of money. He exploited lost souls looking for a spiritual leader. He killed three people in his sham plastic tent and sent many more to the hospital. I only wish the penalty was more severe for the damage he has done.

I pray that all those who have been exploited and harmed by this arrogant fraud, and by exploiters like him, find justice, completion, peace and healing.

James Arthur Ray, manifesting his future

Racism and Invisible Indians in the James Ray Trial

One of the most horrifying things about the James Ray trial, and the coverage by the mainstream media, is that Native people were rendered largely invisible. Of the many witnesses who testified, only Fawn Foster, a groundskeeper at the Angel Valley
retreat center, claimed to have any Native heritage (I don't know if she does, but this is what she stated on the stand). The defense tried to use her stated ethnicity, and her disapproval of pay-to-pray, as a reason to doubt her testimony. It was ugly and racist.

Even worse was the news coverage on In Session and Headline News. They found a pretendian fraud to lead a badly-done and dangerous fake sweat for their cameras. Then they had the fraud on the air repeatedly to talk as an "expert" on Native ceremonies. The fraud violated so many ceremonial protocols in the footage, it was appalling. Native people from the family he claimed had adopted him went online to speak out and say he is not a member of their family and has no rights to ceremonies. He caused much distress to Native people, but even over objections In Session kept having him back.

A few days after that, In Session had a panel of six people discussing their experiences with "sweat lodges". Not a single one of the people interviewed was Native. They were all non-Natives who dabble in what they think are Native ceremonies. As I wrote to In Session at the time: "Non-Natives chanting vocables in a plastic tent is not a 'Native ceremony.'"

Native people and their supporters wrote and called In Session and Headline News to protest. We blogged and tweeted about it; one group started a petition. The only response was that eventually In Session stopped their coverage of the James Ray trial completely. They never issued a clarification or retraction. They never apologized. Perhaps they were embarrassed they had been tricked by the fraud, and wanted to pretend it never happened.

Though In Session gave the non-Native people multiple days of coverage to opine on Native ceremonies, and to spread more ignorance, the only time I saw any Native person given a chance to speak was a brief phone call with Floyd Hand (Lakota). His brief spot was not promoted the way the non-Natives were; he was given very little time to talk, and the vapid on-air personality interrupted him and ended the call when he didn't give her the sort of sound bites she was looking for.

It was very offensive.

The James Ray trial has provided a few small openings to educate about cultural appropriation and the cultural genocide perpetuated by frauds like James Arthur Ray. But mostly it has been horrible and disappointing: Newagers on parade, racism, and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Three people are dead and up until today nothing had really changed, except that a lot of ignorant non-Natives now think anyone can attend a sweat lodge and it's only inappropriate if you make it too hot and too long. Or they don't understand that what James Ray led was not a Native ceremony, and now they mistakenly believe that Native people have scary and deadly practices. Some Pagans who have commented seem to think it's only a matter of a few mistakes in construction and timing, "Oh, he used plastic tarps and overdid it." In terms of non-Native perceptions of Native people and Native lifeways, I'd say the net result has been more of the same ignorance about Native traditions, just on a bigger scale.

Today's verdict is not ideal. Manslaughter convictions would have locked him up for longer. But at least there is a guilty verdict, and some consequences. Maybe some of the exploiters will think a bit longer before they do one of their macho, sham ceremonies, where they (consciously or unconsciously) act out the racist fantasy that they can be "the better Indians" - that they can make their imitation ceremonies longer and hotter, and in airtight deathlodges, because they must know better than those traditionals who've only been doing this for many, many generations. And they must also be the better Indians since apparently they can just attend a few rituals by another fraud and then hang out a shingle as a sweat leader, when those silly Indians have to grow up in the traditions, be trained for decades by people who were raised in these ways, go through ceremonies cultural outsiders don't even know exist in order to be trusted with the right to have a lodge, and then be acknowledged before the whole community as someone who has earned this right. (As the Lakota ways are the ones most-mimicked by the exploiters, including James Ray, I think Chief Arvol Looking Horse's comments on the issue are especially relevant.)

I keep hoping we can use this case as an opportunity for education, and maybe in a small way we have done that. But aside from those who injure and kill ritual participants now knowing there is a precedent for them to face criminal charges, I'm not sure much has changed. I hope there will be more questioning of cult leaders like Ray. But with our increasingly desperate society, with the environmental and economic disasters we're facing, many people seem all too willing to turn off their brains and follow anyone who claims to have easy answers, or easy solutions. My prediction is that more people are going to die. Newagers and NeoPagans are still leading plastic sweats. Back when I was attending Neopagan gatherings in the 1980's, I saw Neopagans make every single one of the mistakes Ray made - the dangerous changes to lodge construction, the macho changes in tradition, the ignorant mixing of fragments of ceremonies, the ignorance of proper spiritual and physical safety protocols, all of it. The only difference, really, is that Ray charged thousands of dollars whereas Neopagans, if they charge money, usually charge hundreds.* Unless something changes in people's attitudes about cultural integrity and cultural misappropriation, the next deaths may be at a Neopagan gathering.

For those who've never researched Gaelic (Irish and Scottish) Sweat House traditions, if someone brings that up you may be interested in this earlier post: New Age Death Sweats IV: Jackboots at the Seder Table. The section specifically about comparative Sweat-related traditions, "But Sweatlodge is Universal", starts about 1/3 of the way through.

*Yes, the old joke does still seem true for much of the Neopagan community:
Q: What's the difference between a Newage gathering and a Neopagan gathering?
A: A decimal point.

For those of you who may not know, the main reason I have very little to do with the mainstream of the Neopagan community these days is the cultural appropriation and usually unintentional, but still very real and unacceptable, racism that is so prevalent there. I just couldn't take it anymore. By the technical definition I'm still a type of modern Pagan, in that I'm a polytheist and practice an earth-based tradition that is both pre-Christian and other-than-Christian. But our Gaelic Polytheist (GP) community has largely different values than the eclectic Neopagan community. We don't have a lot of overlap. As participants in a traditional lifeway, my GP friends, family and I have more in common with our Indigenous friends. These days when I participate in large-scale gatherings it's usually at Gaelic cultural events that are generally secular in nature, or Interfaith gatherings with Indigenous friends and colleagues.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Áine's Day / Grianstad an tSamhraidh

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn

Bábóg na Bealtaine, maighdean an tSamhraidh,
Suas gach cnoc is síos gach gleann,
Cailíní maiseacha bán-gheala gléasta,
Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.

Samhradh, samhradh, bainne na ngamhna,
Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
Samhradh buí na nóinín glégeal,
Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.

Thugamar linn é ón gcoill chraobhaigh,
Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
Samhradh buí ó luí na gréine,
Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.


Tá an fhuiseog ag seinm ‘sag luascadh sna spéartha,
Áthas do lá is bláth ar chrann.
Tá an chuach is an fhuiseog ag seinm le pléisiúr,
Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.



Mayday doll, maiden of Summer
Up every hill and down every glen,
Beautiful girls, radiant and shining,
We have brought the Summer in.

Summer, Summer, milk of the calves,
We have brought the Summer in.
Yellow summer of clear bright daisies,
We have brought the Summer in.

We brought it in from the leafy woods,
We have brought the Summer in.
Yellow Summer from the time of the sunset,
We have brought the Summer in.


The lark is singing and swinging around in the skies,
Joy for the day and the flower on the trees.
The cuckoo and the lark are singing with pleasure,
We have brought the Summer in.


Traditional Gaeilge. Translation from Singing in Irish Gaelic by Mary McLaughlin. Thanks to Treasa for various essentials. Some background on the song, which is usually sung at Bealtaine, but seemed apt around the fire today.

Press Release from Six Protesters arrested at San Francisco Peaks

Native women locked down in the trench,
blockading placement of the pipeline
Photo courtesy of Kyle Boggs

This post is a followup to my Thursday, June 16, 2011 post about the direct action taking place at the sacred San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. Dine' and other Indigenous people and supporters are taking direct action to stop a proposed pipeline that would douse the mountain with sewer water, polluting a sacred ceremonial site and harming the medicinal herbs grown there. See that post for the initial press release from the day of the action.


Sunday June 19, 2011

Contact: Beth Lavely
Tel: 928.254.1064

Protest Halts Snowbowl Wastewater Pipeline Construction

End Destruction and Desecration of Holy San Francisco Peaks

Flagstaff, AZ – At sunrise on Thursday, June 16, 2011, more than a dozen people stopped ski area construction on the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Six individuals used various devices to lock themselves to heavy machinery and to each other inside the waste water pipeline trench.

Kristopher Barney, Dine’ (Navajo) & one of the six who locked himself to an excavator stated, “This is a continuation of years of prayers and resistance. It is our hope that all Indigenous Peoples, and all others, throughout the North, East, South and West come together to offer support to the San Francisco Peaks and help put a stop to Snowbowl’s plan to further destroy and desecrate such a sacred, beautiful and pristine mountain!”

Photo courtesy of Kyle Boggs

“What part of sacred don’t they understand? Through our actions today, we say enough! The destruction and desecration has to end!” said Marlena Teresa Garcia, 16, a young Diné woman and one of the six who chose to lock down. “The Holy San Francisco Peaks is home, tradition, culture, and a sanctuary to me, and all this is being desecrated by the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. So now I, as a young Diné woman, stand by Dook’o’osliid’s side taking action to stop cultural genocide. I encourage all indigenous youth to stand against the desecration that is happening on the Holy San Francisco Peaks and all other sacred sites”, said Garcia after being arrested and released.

Warrior women arrested at action
Photo courtesy of Out Of Your Backpack Media / Beth Lavely

A banner was hung on the side of the trench that read “Defend the Sacred!” where two protesters were locked together. Over the half mile of open construction, the group chanted, “Protect Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights!”, “No desecration for recreation!” “Stop the cultural genocide! Protect the Peaks!”, and “Human health over corporate wealth”.

“This waste water pipeline will poison the environment and to children who may eat snow made from it. Snowbowl plans to spray millions of gallons of waste water 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,” said Evan Hawbaker, one of the protesters who locked themselves to the excavator.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Flagstaff Mayor and Council, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are all responsible for permitting Snowbowl to endanger public health, destroy the environment, and desecrate the Holy Peaks,” said Nadia del Callejo, one of the protesters who locked themselves in the trench.

“Throughout history, acts of resistance and civil disobedience have been taken by young and old against injustices such as this. This action is not isolated but part of a continued resistance to human rights violations, to colonialism, to corporate greed, and destruction of Mother Earth,” added Del Callejo.

A separate group of supporters, some wearing hazmat suits, “quarantined” the entrance to Snowbowl Road. Banners were stretched across the road that read “Protect Sacred Sites” and “Danger! Health Hazard – Snowbowl”.

Photo courtesy of Protect the Peaks

Shortly after initiating the action, a Snowbowl security guard spotted two people locked to an excavator. By 6:00 a.m. more than 15 armed agents, including the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department, City of Flagstaff Police, & the FBI stormed the mountain.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the Flagstaff Fire Department, assisted by County Sheriffs, started aggressively cutting two people from the excavator.

“We took every possible measure to ensure our safety. Our actions were taken to safeguard Indigenous Peoples’ cultural survival, our community’s health and this sensitive mountain ecosystem. Those who cut us out endangered our well being ignoring the screams to stop. They treated our bodies the way they’re treating this holy mountain. If they had their way, we wouldn’t even exist. There is more danger in doing nothing. To idly stand by and allow this destruction and desecration is to allow cultural genocide”, said the other young Dine’ woman who chose to lock down.

Photo courtesy of Protect the Peaks

“The police’s use of excessive force was in complete disregard for my safety. They pulled at my arms and forced my body and head further into the machine, all the while using heavy duty power saws within inches of my hand,” said Evan Hawbaker.
After being cut out, the two were treated by paramedics and arrested for trespassing. The police, firefighters, and paramedics then proceeded to cut two people locked in a nearby trench.

Extraction took about forty minutes and the two were immediately seen by paramedics after being unlocked. One of the individuals sustained injuries to their arm from abusive force. Both were charged with trespassing, with an added charge of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”, for one of the individuals. Police proceeded to unlock the last group who was also inside the trench nearby.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Boggs

“Our only offense was resistance; resistance of the implications that’s Snowbowl’s development exudes. The police’s defense was to implement tactics of fear to reach a goal, essentially to continue construction as soon as possible. Our safety was prioritized second to Snowbowl’s demands. I was one of the demonstrators in the trench, locked at the neck with a partner. I was not aggressive. My lock was sawed through, inches away from both of our heads, secured solely and recklessly by the hands of a deputy. During the process, we were repeatedly asked to chant to reaffirm our consciousness. The police’s response was hasty, taking about ten minutes in total–it was dehumanizing,” said Hailey Sherwood, one of the last protester to be cut out.

Both women were also seen by paramedics. One was sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion although she denied feeling dehydrated. She started to faint during the extraction when police, EMTs, and firefighters attempted to force the pair to stand and move them from their location. Both women repeatedly expressed that they were being hurt and choked by law enforcement officers and firefighters. Both of the protesters were arrested for trespassing, with additional charges to one of them for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” and “endangerment”.

Photo courtesy of Out Of Your Backpack Media

Four of the protesters were taken to County Jail. The two young people were taken to Coconino County Juvenile Detention Center. FBI agents attempted to question four of those arrested.

As word spread about the demonstration to protect the Peaks, overwhelming support and solidarity poured in from throughout the community and internationally.
Bail was raised shortly after the arrests. All demonstrators were released by 3:30 p.m. Three of the protesters, including Marlena Teresa Garcia, immediately filed a report for excessive use of force after being released.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Boggs

“How can we be trespassers on our Holy Site?” questioned Barney. “I do not agree with these and the other charges, we will continue our resistance.”


All photos courtesy KUYI Hopi Public Radio, reprinted with permission. All copyrights revert to the original photographers.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Closing Arguments in James Ray Deathlodge Manslaughter Trial

Prosecutor Sheila Polk delivers closing arguments in James Ray manslaughter trial

Thank you, Twinkie Wrangler for transcribing highlights from the closing arguments in the James Arthur Ray, newage shameon deathlodge trial: Closing Arguments in Arizona v. James Arthur Ray

The defense is delivering their closing as I type this. For the play-by-play, live coverage follow the James Ray Daily and the #JamesRay hashtag on Twitter.

For those wondering how to lead an eclectic, newage ritual that kills people, this is also a good intro. < / sarcasm >

Some quotes from the transcript:

Laurie Gennari ... heard a voice call out, “She’s not responding”.

And at another time, she heard someone call out, “She’s not breathing.” She heard Mr. Ray respond, “leave her there we’ll deal with it at the end of the round.”


In his pre-event briefing, Mr. Ray described all the signs and symptoms of heat related illness, but then told them to ignore them and that it was safe to do so.

Mr. Ray encouraged them to let others have their own experience and not to interfere.

Rather than teaching participants that altered mental status is hallmark of heat exhaustion, Mr. Ray encouraged them to push through and endure and that they would have a breakthrough.


You’ve heard the defendant’s own words describing how he was intentionally taking the lodge to extreme heat to achieve an altered mental state, telling and them to ignore signs of their bodies.

Sweat lodge ceremonies are not inherently dangerous events.

Endurance challenges where participants are told to ignore signs of heat illness are incredibly dangerous.

No one could imagine that James Ray would ignore calls for help and allow participants to pass out in that tent and just leave them there.

He knew.

He intended to introduce hellaciously hot heat and steam.

He told participants to ignore their body’s warning signs of distress and pushing through pain and suffering was a good thing.

He told them they were not supposed to speak during sweat lodge ceremony unless asked by him.

James Ray audio clip: “…By the time we get to the 27th round – just kidding I will promise you we’ll have at least 7 rounds it just depends on how I get inspired. You’ve got to surrender to it. We’ll be doing some prayers and chants and I may go into an altered state. …

"I’m the master of the lodge and when I tell you to do something that’s when you do it."

He told [participants] they could not leave the tent during a round. ... he said, “I am the grand master in this temple and I need you to think of it in this way. The person running the lodge is like a priest.”


What you must consider is did the defendant’s conduct pose a substantial and unjust risk of death and was the defendant aware of the risk. Did he substantially disregard the substantial risk of death?

To prove crime of manslaughter you would have to prove Mr. Ray was aware of the risk of death and ignored it.

I submit to you that Mr. Ray was aware of that risk.

His words before and during the heat challenge itself is proof to you that he was aware.

His conduct inside the sweat lodge as round after round after round more people got sick and his conduct about what he did and what he did not do shows you that what was happening is what he intended to happen. You’ve heard his intent was to create this extreme mental state.

But he intended to use that heat to take them up to that brink of death and think they were getting something for their $10,000.

That’s why he doesn’t stop as people are being dragged out. This is what he intended.


Witness after witness has testified about the growing chaos in this tent starting really about the end of round four.

Amy Grimes passed out on Kim Brinkley. She testified she yelled out for help and that Amy was dragged out.

Somebody drags out Amy right past the defendant.

Lou Caci ... delirious and unconscious, falling into that pit of heated rocks.

You have heard so much testimony about the growing chaos, moans, requests for help, dragged out limp and lifeless in front of the defendant.

All the information that he had about people being in distress as early as the fourth round and all the opportunity he had to stop this challenge. He didn’t.

Mr. Ray’s desire to make people think they were experiencing something unique took precedence over their safety.

Debbie Mercer testified that she assisted about 25 people.

Beverly Bunn testified that everything was chaos after the 4th round. Sydney Spenser was dragged out completely lifeless right past the defendant. The defendant shouted, “Everybody quiet down! I am in charge!”

When Scott Barratt tried to move Linda Andresano, the defendant yelled at him to stop. Scott Barratt testified that he stopped because he was afraid that the defendant would yell at him again.

Mr. Ray said, “Just leave her. We need to keep going.”

All these opportunities to stop that event.

These deaths were not inevitable.

Ask yourself , if the defendant had stopped the ceremony when he had these warnings would Kirby, James and Liz still be alive?

There's more. Much more...

It is abundantly clear that by the fourth round, Ray knew people were in medical distress, and needing medical attention. He ignored their distress, told others to ignore their distress, and kept calling for more rocks, more buckets of water to create more heat and steam. He continued this hell-lodge for four more rounds as people lost consciousness and three died. He watched them vomit and lose control of their bodily functions. He watched them unconscious and not breathing, and still he went on. He could have stopped it and he did not. Let's hope the jury gets it and locks this guy up.

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