Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sierra Club thanks Native activists and attorney

From the Sierra Club:

Hey All:

It is a new day for the tribes of America in their efforts to protect sacred areas on federal lands.

Justice has been served.

It was incredible to hear from many people around the country who have been inspired by this legal decision. I received thanks and congratulation on behalf of Sierra Club from tribal medicine men, National Monument Superintendents, professors, students and simple folks who love this mountain like a family member. The phone was off the hook. Many cried when I told them the news and a light shined through.

A big thanks to all those who have written letters, poems and marched with signs like, “Snowbowl: Where the effluent meets the affluent.” This was a huge, multi-year effort by not only the Sierra Club, but countless tribal members and other environmental voices shouting out against the injustice of snowmaking on the Peaks.

A special thanks to Howard Shanker and his legal strategy that proved to be a winner. Not only for the Snowmaking issue, but for tribe across the country who now have another legal arrow in their quiver to protect sacred lands.

In addition, I want to acknowledge Robert Tohe’s leadership in this issue and thank him for providing the Sierra Club voice in this struggle through the Sierra Club’s EJ program. He has been there working on maintaining the unity between the tribes in this court case. Additional Sierra Club leaders had a big impact on the outcome of this case including Dr. Paul Torrence who provided the evidence that the reclaimed water could impact human health if consumed.
The Sierra Club’s Plateau Group and Grand Canyon Chapter have always been in support of this legal struggle through thick and thin and they should be commended.

I think everyone realizes that there were amazing activists involved that carried this struggle through countless events, concerts, rallies and meetings. Klee Benally and the entire Benally family have provided a consistent inspiration in their leadership for this issue. Kelvin Long with ECHOES along with Klee kept the international community aware of this issue and kept the pressure on Snowbowl. Sharon Galbreath’s leadership has been equally powerful and consistent throughout the years and has been a strong voice on strategy.

Thanks to all the tribal leaders who have advocated for the protection of the Peaks for decades including Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, and many others……

From a personal stance, I am deeply relived that we prevailed and that the snowmaking plan is dead for now. I know that many prayers were made to allow this outcome and I am happy that people’s prayers have been answered.

Even if Snowbowl and the Forest Service appeal to the Supreme Court, it will be years before this will be heard. Their official timeline for appeal is 90 days, Mr. Shanker predicts. There are many next steps that Robert Tohe will work on in the future to make sure this does not come up again and that the Peaks are respected.

Below are a few articles that have come out. Great work everyone!!!!

Andy Bessler
Sierra Club's Environmental Partnership Program
P.O. Box 38
Flagstaff , AZ 86002
928-774-6103
fax 774-6138
cell 928-380-7808
andy.bessler@sierraclub.org
www.sierraclub.org/partnerships/tribal

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