Friday, August 19, 2011

State of Emergency: Another Week of Action to Save the Peaks

Activists on-site have announced a state of emergency. Old growth forest is being clearcut and burnt, the land bulldozed. Many of the trees are not even being used for lumber, but piled into twenty foot high slash piles and burned. All of this so privileged tourists can go snow skiing, all of this to destroy a watershed, destroy a landbase, destroy a culture.

Another Week of Action is in progress, with street actions and direct action on the mountain continuing.

"If not now, when? If not you, who?"

"The pictures do not really explain the massive scale. The stump in the foreground is 5ft across and the log pile peeking over the top has a few hundred trees that were many hundreds of years old."

"20 foot tall slash pile being burned. Thanks Lorena Caballero for the photo. Be sure to check her photos for another full album of pictures."

From the album: Converge on the Peaks - by Nuvatuqui Ovi

Monday, August 15, 2011

Save the Peaks Action: August 23

Passing on the word from

Silent Vigil
Tues, August 23
City Hall
Flagstaff AZ

Water is Life, Don't sell ours to Snowbowl!

On Tuesday August 23 we will hold Silent Vigil in front of City Hall and subsequently in city council meeting. It is time to stop for a moment and pay our respects to the plants, trees, animals, and insects who died or lost their homes in the clear-cuts that are taking place up on the mountain at the hands of Arizona Snowbowl.

It would only take four city council members with courage and vision to end this entire treated sewage effluent fiasco forever. With their simple vote to end the contract it could put an end to anger and racism and outright desecration and begin the healing process. It would also keep 180,000,000 gallons of water a year filtering through 1200 feet of volcanic rock back into our own aquifer, instead of dumping it directly above a perched aquifer on the peaks and uphill from the Hart Prairie aquifer.

Flagstaff water for Flagstaff, don't sell it to Snowbowl.

Please join us in the City Council meeting and let them know what their silence feels like. The council chambers can likely hold about 200 people, so come on down and help us fill the room.

Let them know that water is life, don't sell ours to Snowbowl.

Spread the word, and follow the updates at

"What is at stake is our prayers, our ways of life, our cultural survival."

Updates, additional photos, and statements from activists arrested on the Holy San Francisco Peaks on Saturday, courtesy

"What is at stake is our prayers, our ways of life, our cultural survival."

On the Gaelic front, so much of my work in recent years has been about preserving our prayers and songs for the coming generations. This is still culturally vital, but what good are these things if we no longer have the land on which to pray and sing? What use are our ceremonies if the land becomes too desecrated to sustain life? Without land we have no culture, no life, no future.

This is why my prayer is that our cultural preservation of language, songs, prayers and ceremonies, go hand in hand with our cultural preservation that prioritizes protection of the sacred land. The culture sustains us, the land sustains us, and neither can be separated from the other.

Update: Annie over at Tairis in Scotland has weighed in on the issue, as well. Good to see more international coverage, especially from a fellow Gaelic Polytheist who understands how vital this work is to our cultures, whether we are protecting sacred sites in Alba agus Éire or in the diaspora. Moran Taing!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Part of "Sacred" Don't You Understand?

photo courtesy Outta Your Backpack Media / Censored News

View Video of Lockdown

Indigenous people and their allies were holding a prayer circle on the mountain Saturday morning. They had invited people of all faiths to the sacred site to pray with them in solidarity.

As they were praying in the cool, mountain air, sounds of heavy machinery drove away the sounds of nature. In rumbled the diggers... ready to desecrate and disrupt ceremony, ready to rip the mountain apart right in front of the people. Klee Benally jumped in front of a digger and chained himself to the heavy machinery to stop them, and activists moved to fill in the trenches, rock by rock, handful of earth by handful of earth.

Many of us involved in the struggle to protect sacred sites have stressed:

We protect the sacred sites
so we'll have a place to pray
We pray to have the strength
to protect the sacred land
United in our prayer
we protect the sacred land
Our action is our prayer
Our action is our prayer

How much clearer does the struggle get? How much more vividly can the need for resistance be shown, when clearcutters, diggers and bulldozers violate the sanctity of a prayer circle, and the people who were only there to pray are faced with the immediate decision whether to take it, to flee, or to put their bodies on the line to defend the land?

Full story and additional photos

Nineteen people have been arrested in the past ten days, as Navajo, Hualapai, Hopi, O'odham and other Indigenous people have been protesting the destruction of the sacred mountains.

"The Arizona Snowbowl plans to make snow for tourists on the sacred mountain using recycled waste water. Thirteen Native American Indian Nations hold the mountains sacred. Medicine men gather healing plants and conduct ceremonies on the mountains.
Already, there is clearcutting of the old growth forests for the pipeline and tourist developments."


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Klee Benally Locked Down on Holy Mountain

Two activists arrested, public protest at Coconino County Jail, bail support needed.

Via Brenda Norrell:
Navajo Klee Benally chained himself to an excavator on Snowbowl Road on Saturday, Aug. 14, after machinery disrupted a prayer gathering on San Francisco Peaks. Peaks police liaison Rudy Preston and author Mary Sojourner were arrested. Both have been bailed out of Coconino County Jail, according to a message at 1:30 am on Sunday.


The Week of Action to save the sacred San Francisco Peaks from clearcutting, bulldozing, devastation and desecration has drawn many new supporters to the public marches and rallies, as well as direct action by those risking arrest on the mountain herself. Guess what, the week is over but the actions are not. The fight continues in the courts and defenders are camped all over the mountain, ready to launch direct action from base camps. Actionists have vowed to continue until the site is protected.

At 2pm Mountain Time on Saturday, Klee Benally locked down to heavy machinery on the mountain, laying his body on the line to protect this sacred site. Our prayers and gratitude to Klee and all the brave actionists on the mountain. Follow Censored News and twitter for the most up to date coverage, and the rest of us will do our best to spread the word as well.

More photos from the week of Action and invitation to prayer circle in support of the actions.

Update 5:26pm et: Police vehicles on scene, police are with Klee and other protestors.

Update 5:56pm et: Two actionists arrested: Mary Sojourner and Rudy Preston. Klee Benally is still locked down.

Statement from Protect the Peaks, via Brenda Norrell:
Snowbowl's destruction and desecration is currently being stopped by another blockade involving Klee Benally. Updates and photos are available at Jail support is needed and there will be a gathering outside of the Coconino County Jail (starting now until everyone is released). At this point, it is expected that $900 may be needed to bail out those arrested. If you can contribute to legal funds, please drop off money at the jail. Please support in person or in some other way.

For those wishing to help with bail but unable to get there in person, you can donate via PayPal at or

Update 7:13pm et: Klee Benally cut out of chains, cited for disorderly conduct and released. Rally continues at jail.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Week of Action for the Holy Mountain: brave and beautiful actionists, violent police, attempts at censorship, and the necessity of security culture

The Week of Action is continuing full force in Arizona. Brenda Norrell and activists on Twitter are continuing to provide vital, up to the moment coverage of this breaking story. Indigenous Action Media and are continuing to publish detailed reports of the actions and marches.

Sunday’s march joins four decades of sustained resistance to desecration of the Holy Peaks. Over the past three weeks since Snowbowl began clear-cutting, dozens of protest camps have been established on the mountain.

“The Week of Action is a culmination of efforts to directly address the lack of political will of the Forest Service and City Council to safeguard the community, public health and cultural rights,” said Nadia Del Callejo who was arrested while simply video taping the incident.

“The same profit driven push that has desecrated the Peaks, is the same sickness that has lead to the militarization of the border and is now trying to desecrate South Mountain, which is sacred to all O’odham.” said Alex Soto (Tohono O‘odham ) who was also arrested, “Sacred sites are under attack, but today we said no. Our solidarity in these struggles is re-establishing our traditional networks of support.”

Demonstrators invite everyone to join them
- Monday, August 8, 12:30 pm at the United States Coconino National Forest Service Office at 1824 S. Thomson St
- Wednesday, 12:30pm at High Desert Investment at 504 E Butler Ave
- Wednesday, 4:00pm at Flagstaff City Hall.

Protesters vowed to not stop until the desecration of the Peaks stops. “I am not afraid of what will happen to me if I protest, what I am more afraid of is what will happen if I do not stand up for what the Peaks are,” Stated Del Callejo.

Read the full story at Censored News

What is disturbing about the arrests at these actions is most of them are not your usual, orderly, Civil Disobedience arrests seen at many mass demonstrations or even lockdowns in the past. The police have dragged peaceful marchers out of the crowd for no apparent reason; the only reason seems to be they were recognized as some of the more central organizers, which in some cases would only be known via infiltration, informants, or lapses in security. In other cases, activists in roles that are usually respected as not violating any laws, and not risking arrest, such as police liasons and media personnel, are also being arrested.

It seems clear to me that the police are being ordered to stop these demonstrations - including the completely legal and peaceful marches - even at the risk of breaking the law themselves. Whether the harsh treatment of protestors is simply due to the patterns of racism we have seen in Arizona government, or due to the money thrown around by those who stand to profit from the desecration of the mountain, remains to be seen. I have my opinions in the matter, but will wait to hear more from the actionists on the front line.

Another pattern we're seeing is that Facebook, which is now thoroughly used by law enforcement for gathering intel, has been demanding unintelligible "captchas" of anyone posting links to certain blogs that are covering the actions. Sometimes four or more captchas in a row, and then the post will still not go through. Other activists have been mysteriously locked out of their accounts after posting links to the Save the Peaks coverage.

It is not the first time this has happened. A few months ago I was signing into my account, and for no apparent reason it asked me to identify pictures of people on my friends list. Every picture was of activists and spokespeople, and all of them were Indigenous. All of the pictures were of groups of people, and I was asked to identify the people pictured with my friends. I had never seen some of the pictures before. In one case I was asked to identify the elderly mother of an activist friend. I refused, and eventually Facebook stopped asking me.

If it was just a Facebook account security or social networking issue, Facebook could have asked me about any of the non-Native people on my friends list. There are plenty of them. But that's not what whoever was using FB for intel was interested in.

Learn about Security Culture and stay safe.

Direct Action Continues on Sacred San Francisco Peaks

The action continues on the peaks today. Jail support needed. Updates on this developing story at Censored News and Twitter at #NoPoopSnow.

Breaking News

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Eight Snowbowl Ski Resort protesters locked down to barrels at 5 am, protesting the destruction to sacred San Francisco Peaks.

Police are now cutting away the protesters. Peaks police liaison Rudy Preston arrested at the scene.

Native American are struggling to defend San Francisco Peaks, sacred to 13 area Native American Nations. The Snowbowl Ski Resort is already destroying the sacred mountain with the clearcutting of grandmother trees, as a pipeline is put in to bring sewage water to the ski resort for snowmaking.

Native American medicine men gather healing plants and conduct ceremonies on San Francisco Peaks. The healing herbs would be contaminated by sewage water snow.
Tourists are being asked to boycott Snowbowl Ski Resort. Many Flagstaff businesses use Native American images, jewelry and culture for profit. Flagstaff residents and businesses are asked to protect Native American sacred places and join the efforts to defend San Francisco Peaks.

Thanks to Alex Soto and Darrick Jay Hobbs for sending photos to Censored News, via cellphone.
Photo copyrights: Photo 1: Alex Soto Photo 2: Darrick Jay Hobbs.

And thanks to Brenda Norrell of Censored News for her excellent coverage.

Detailed coverage of the Week of Action and more photos from Indigenous Action Media.

zombie walk draws attention to the dangers of poopsnow

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Seven Arrested at Peaceful March for Sacred San Francisco Peaks

Requesting anyone who can to head over to the Coconino jail right now to join the solidarity and support rally. Reports are coming in that police attacked marchers today.

klee benally being arrested

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Seven of the fiercest warriors who have been protecting the peaks were targeted and arrested in front of Macy's Coffeehouse on Sunday afternoon.

Undercover police have infiltrated the hundred person march and are attempting to squash the growing anti-Snowbowl movement! If you're in Flagstaff, please go join the march downtown. They will soon be moving over to the jail to rally and organize legal/financial support.

This was a peaceful march that was surrounded by police from the minute it formed and they were just waiting to pounce. And they did!

Native Americans are struggling to defend sacred San Francisco Peaks from snow to be made from sewage water at the Snowbowl tourists resort on the Peaks. The mountains are sacred to 13 Native American Nations, medicine plants are gathered there, and ceremonies held there. The pipeline is already resulting in clearcutting of grandmother trees. is taking donations for bail. All bail will be refunded. It is $238 per person.

Check back for updates.

police arresting Klee Benally some more

Up to the moment discussion and immediate updates also happening on Facebook and Twitter.

protesting the desecration of the sacred san francisco peaks

peaceful solidarity march

I am pretty sure all these photos are courtesy of Youth of the Peaks, via Brenda Norrell. Will update later. Action still in progress. More photos at Censored News.