August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Navajo Healers call for Day of Prayer for Holy San Francisco Peaks

Contacts: Cora Maxx-Phillips, Dine Hataalii Association (928) 349-1092

David Johns, Dine Hataalii Association (928) 221-9167

Navajo Healers Call For A Day Of Prayer For The Holy San Francisco Peaks

By Dine' Hataalii Association
Photo: Hopi Tewa March by Jeneda Benally

U.S. Department of Agriculture approves Arizona ski resort to use sewage water for snowmaking on sacred mountain

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. -- The Day of Prayer is scheduled on Saturday July 17, 2010. Navajo medicine men and women urge all tribal nations to stand in solidarity with their prayers to protect the Holy San Francisco Peaks and to support the litigants who will be challenging Arizona Snowbowl Ski resort’s use of sewage wastewater for snowmaking development on Friday, July 20th, 2010 at 1:00 PM in the United States District Court before the Honorable Mary H. Murguia at 401 W. Washington Street Phoenix, Arizona.

Navajo medicine men and women of the Dine Hataalii Association (DHA) and the Azee' Bee Nahagah of Dine' Nation (ABNDN), gathered over the weekend to discuss the recent decision by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will allow Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort to either make use of potable drinking water from the city of Flagstaff or to use reclaimed wastewater (sewage water) for snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks. “Historically the San Francisco Peaks are held very sacred to more than 13 tribes in the southwestern United States. The proposed activities by Arizona Snowbowl and the U.S. Forest Service will continue to desecrate the religious and spiritual significance of our Holy San Francisco Peaks.” states David Johns, acting president of the Dine Hataalii Association.

The upcoming U.S. District court case, The Save the Peaks Coalition v. U.S. Forest Service, will hear oral arguments on the potential public health risks of human ingestion of reclaimed wastewater snow and the U.S. Forest Service’s lack of adequate public health and safety research. Effluent wastewater can contain pharmaceuticals, hormones, endocrine disruptors, industrial pollutants, and narcotics that could be dangerous to native plant habitats, wildlife and humans.

"We want to offer our prayers so that this case may be effective in safeguarding Dooko'osliid (the San Francisco Peaks) and our ways of life from harm.” states Cora Maxx-Phillips, board member of the Dine Hataalii Association, “The Day of Prayer is to help protect and preserve the wellness of our sacred mountain and all living things.”

The Dine Hataalii Association were litigants in a previous case addressing religious freedom violations if the ski area expansion and snowmaking were to desecrate the Holy Peaks. Last year the Supreme Court denied that legal challenge and upheld a lower court's ruling affirming Native Americans have no religious freedom when it comes down to U.S. public land management decisions.

On July 29 at 5:00 PM, the Flagstaff City Water Commission will be holding a public hearing at the Flagstaff City Hall to decide whether or not they will approve a contract to sell potable drinking water to Arizona Snowbowl instead of reclaimed wastewater. Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend the public hearing and express their opposition to both options that will allow the utilization of Flagstaff drinking water or reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking.

For more information regarding the upcoming district court case, please visit

Ya Basta! Voices of Struggle in Arizona

Video by Panleft
Ya Basta Fridays in Tucson at the Arizona State Building Downtown Congress/Granada 4 pm to 7 pm. Stand against SB1070. Bring your friends and familia. The time is now. Video features interview with Isabel Garcia and images of people in Tucson coming together every Friday. Join us! More info. at
also find out more about the We Reject Racism Campaign here

Yaqui traditional healers verbally abused in southern Arizona

From Jose Matus, Yaqui, director, Indigenous Alliance without Borders
RED ALERT! - Yaqui Traditional Healers from Rio Yaqui Sonora, Mexico and Pascua Yaqui Staff were verbally abused and mistreated in a rrestaurant in Tumacacori, Arizona.

I am sharing this unfortunate incident with all of you to make you aware of the mistreatment of our Yaqui Women in Tumacacori. I will be meeting with the staff person that reported this incident to the Alianza Indigena to further document and take action action against this establishment.
Be aware you people of Color don't eat in Tumacacori!
Jose R. Matus, Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras

Racial Profiling and Verbal Abuse of our Tribal People in Tumacacori
By Amalia Reyes
Good Afternoon Everyone,
I want to share with you an event that took place yesterday in Tumacacori around 6:00 p.m or so, where our tribal people, three who were from Rio Yaqui were yelled at and called “dumb Mexicans” and “mal educados”, by people who own a Greek restaurant in that small town, across from the Tumacacori National Park.
I had volunteered to drive to pick up our traditional healers from Rio Yaqui who were coming to the reservation for the Traditional Healing program in the Alternative Medicine Department. They were safely picked up at the bus station and we crossed into the U.S. My co-worker and I were tired and wanted a cup of coffee before we began the trip back to the Pascua Pueblo Reservation.
I drove into Tumacacori, hoping to get some coffee and found this restaurant. It said Gyros and it was open, so we stopped. The gentleman who approached me as I got out said that they did have coffee, but “not to go”, hence we went into the restaurant to sit down drink some coffee.
As we entered, we noticed that they seem to stare a little bit extra at us, as we were dressed in our traditional clothing. Two of us went into the restrooms while three of us were getting ready to be seated. The two traditional healers were standing, when the 60 year old woman, who was the waitress told them that they needed to buy something if they wanted to use the restaurant and gave us a harsh look. Our healers do not speak English.
We sat and then ordered coffee and a soda from the older waitress and meanwhile, the man who was tending the cooking area, the same one who told us about the coffee, kept staring at us in a very exasperated and angry way and the older waitress and he were talking in low tones and kept staring at us as if they did not want us in the restaurant. I don’t know if it was because we were not going to order food, but just coffee or because of who we were. It was hard to distinguish.
The waiter then took the menus and angrily shoved them back into the storing area near the cash register. They then sent out a young woman who was working in the back kitchen and she asked us what we wanted and we said coffee/cream and one refresco, a Coke. By then, Marcelina who works for the Alternative Medicine Program and I began to feel very comfortable. They kept staring and talking about us. By then we knew that they did not want us there at all!
Then the older waitress came out and brought me a coffee and the other Sr. his Coke. We waited and still no coffee for my co-worker, Marcelina Lucero. Marcelina and I decided enough was enough and decided to leave. We did not drink the coffee or the Coke and left the restaurant.
As we walked out, three older gentlemen began to call the traditional healers “mal educados” in a harsh way. And I know they understood that very well. We got into our GSA vehicle and the older waitress and one of the older men stormed out of the restaurant and began to say some very rude things to us that we could not quite make out, as we were in a hurry to get into the vehicle. Then the older waitress began to yell at us and called us “dirty Mexicans” and to not come back, the older man began yelling that we needed to pay for our untouched coffee and unopened Coke and the older waitress was still saying some things to us.
As we drove away, the older man was writing down our GSA plate number and we took off in total shock, afraid and hurt. I surely had not expected this kind of behavior in a town that has our ceremonial Matachinim come dance every year at Tumacacori; a town that our Yaqui people help settle in the 1800’s.
I drove in silence and my passengers were also silent; mortified and fearful over what had just happened. It seemed so unreal. We did not know what to say to each other. I was expecting the police to stop us at second to charge us with a crime and my heart was beating very hard and I think the same for all the others.
More so, Jose, I felt for the Yaqui healers who came to the U.S. with all legal documents, wanting to help our tribal people and for them to get treated in the manner, not more than 15 minutes after crossing the border. This was beyond my control and Marcelina’s control. We could not do anything to stop it.
I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but I do know that it served Greek food. We were so upset that none of us recalled those names after the incident. But it is across from the national park in a renovated house.
I am sharing this with you, because I just don’t know what to do and to let you know not to go to that restaurant and let others know. It was horrifying and awful that they told us those things and I did pray that they, the restaurant people get some good heart and that God forgive them.
Maybe the police will track the GSA down and they will charge us with a crime, because they seemed to be that type of people, but we did not drink the coffee or open the Coke. But we did use the restroom if that is a crime.
I have not told our tribal council, as I was volunteering as a driver and I hope that Marcelina does report it to her supervisor, Mr. Howard. I really feel for the healers. It took me some hours before I was calm again and I am sure they felt very badly about it for some time.
Thank you.
Amalia Reyes, Manager
Dr. Fernando Escalante Community
Library & Resource Center
Physical Address-7441 S. Camino Cocoim
Mailing Address-7474 S. Camino de Oeste
Tucson, Arizona 85757
520-879-5474/5742 -Fax 520-879-5475
"Wepul Hiapsi tavenasia te nau tekipanoane, Let us work together as if we had One Heart".
Dr. Fernando Escalante