White Mountain Apache respond to Snowbowl lies
March 22, 2007
To: Jon Misner - President and General Manager
Mark Casey – News Director
1101 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Dear Mr. Misner and Mr. Casey,
This letter provides a response to Eric Borowsky’s interview by Mark Curtis and Fay Fredricks on Friday, March 16, 2007, regarding the recent ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I find it appalling that the interview was made without any attempt by KPNX to gain comments from the Plaintiffs. Without our views, the interview was biased, factually incorrect, and unfair. KNPX has a duty to provide both sides of any news story, but has completely failed to do so in this case.
Mr. Borowsky falsely claims that the White Mountain Apache Tribe makes “snow from virtually untreated sewer water”, sprays it on a “sacred mountain” and operates “without question or environmental review.” Nothing can be further from the truth.
Unlike Snowbowl, the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Sunrise Ski Park is not on a sacred mountain. There is a sacred mountain nearby, but it is miles away and remains closed to the public. Nor do we spray untreated sewer water to make snow on our ski slopes. We have to comply with the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and other federal regulations, just like everyone else. We use pure water to make snow.
Mr. Borowsky complains of a certain unfairness in his treatment by the 9th Circuit, because the water he wanted to make snow with is “A+” and “reclaimed”. Scottsdale residents do not drink A+ water, as he claims. The fact is that Mr. Borowsky wanted to use treated sewage effluent on a mountain that is sacred to Indian people. We and other Tribes found that use untenable. Judge Fletcher correctly observed that it would be equivalent to using treated sewage for a baptism in a church. No one would stand for that in any temple, church or synagogue. Why should we?
We further pointed out, and the 9th Circuit agreed, that the U.S. Forest Service did not follow the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act. That is hardly a liberal view; it’s a fact. Nor do we, nor any other Tribe, have some kind of veto power over any project on federal lands.
Clearly, the facts are not legally in Snowbowl’s favor. While sewage effluent may have been the best economic choice for Snowbowl Partners, there were alternatives, which Snowbowl refused to consider. What is unfortunate is that Mr. Borowsky prefers to color his protest in racial terms. We believe that the facts speak for themselves.
Apaches did not suddenly wake up and find that the San Francisco Peaks have religious significance, as Mr. Borowsky reports. For centuries, our people have been going to the Peaks to practice our beliefs, our traditions. The Peaks are an integral part of who we are as Apache, as a spiritual people. As the most holy mountain of the north, the Peaks are one of a chain of four mountains that form the four cardinal directions, and a place where the Ga’an, the holy ones, come from. In court, we provided factual evidence to support our view that the Peaks are perhaps one of the most powerful, significant religious sites for us. Now the court has agreed. That is justice.
It is my hope that KNPX offer equal time to the Plaintiffs to rebut Mr. Borowsky’s outrageous claims. Only in that way would KNPX guarantee fairness and accuracy in reporting the news.
You may contact Gwendena Real Bird of my office at 928.338.2502 or 205.5733, to set a time for an interview.