Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 10, 2011

Blockade halts ski resort destruction and desecration of Holy Mountain

Blockade Halts Ski Resort Destruction and Desecration of Holy Mountain

By Protect the Peaks
Press statement
Censored News
(928) 600-0856
French translation:
Traduction (Fr):
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- (August 8th, 2011) Nine people took direct action at 5:00 AM on Monday morning, blockading the ongoing destruction and desecration of the Holy San Francisco Peaks.  Nine individuals directly confronted the ecocidal actions of Arizona Snowbowl, halting their daily clear-cutting and pipeline excavation plans for eight hours.

Responding sheriffs deputies immediately arrested the group’s police liaison, who was ensuring the safety of demonstrators. More than 50 law enforcement officials used industrial saws and a jack hammer to forcefully break apart the blockade.

“The action we took today is one part of a series of events with the intent to stop Snowbowl, the US Forest Service, and other corporations from further desecrating the Holy San Francisco Peaks,” stated Haley Coles after being released from jail. “The pipeline will not be tolerated. Spewed waste water turned into artificial snow will not be tolerated. Clear cuts, slash piles, and burning of hundred-year old trees will not be tolerated. The Holy mountain will be defended, and the desecration will be stopped; at whatever cost. We have the mountain on our side,” said Coles.

Stephen Zavodynik, also arrested during Monday’s blockade, stated, “Today, a small group of people decided that they had enough of wealthy investors, cultural genocide, and privileged white people who are indifferent to the destructive impacts of their recreational activities.  We decided to take matters into our own hands and you can too. Whatever you feel is sacred, defend it with all your heart and take a risk, because our future generations will not forgive inaction.”

“As a snowboarder, I support an immediate reversal of all construction related to the expansion and spreading of treated sewage on the sacred San Francisco Peaks. It is our obligation to act immediately to prevent ongoing cultural genocide and environmental destruction just miles from where we live, where old growth forest is culled using slash and burn foresting techniques while huge, diesel-powered machines cut into the earth in preparation for the import of hormones, carcinogenic chemical compounds, and fecal matter onto the highest reaches of the San Francisco peaks.

Allowing Arizona Snowbowl to buy treated sewage from the City of Flagstaff is an absolute failure of our elected representatives to protect the civil rights of indigenous members of the Flagstaff community. I will continue to use any means necessary to protect the peaks and support my friends and community members.” stated Kennedy.

Jenna Tomasello, who was also part of the action, stated that “Almost all of our options have been exhausted. The US Supreme Court failed to protect religious freedoms of Native peoples.  The Flagstaff City Council has failed to meaningfully listen to its constituents who have consistently vocalized their opposition to Arizona Snowbowl development for decades.  And the US Forest Service has failed to protect the public from the environmental impacts of treated sewage effluent.  It is time for more people, wherever you are, to open your eyes. Respect the land of which we are dependent on and the people that the land has been stolen from.  The only choice for us is to take action against those who threaten Indigenous cultures, the environment and our future.  It’s frustrating that we had to do this in order to make this point clear.” stated Tomasello.

“For those of us who have chosen to fight the colonial strongholds, we have also chosen to fight for the minds that hold this power.  If harmony is to prevail, all beliefs attempting to control nature must be liberated.  We belong to the Earth; the Earth does not belong to us.” stated Tom Lang, who was part of the action.

All 10 arrested were released within hours due to strong outpouring of community support.
17 people have been arrested during a community “Week of Action to Protect the Peaks.” 23 arrests have been made since June 16, when 6 people locked themselves to Snowbowl excavators and inside sewage pipeline trenches.

"This was an autonomous action planned by those who took part. It was beautiful and powerful and very responsible. We took every measure to ensure our safety. Nobody was unwillingly put in the way." stated Rudy Preston, the arrested police liason for the group. "The Civil Disobedience roadblock on the mountain was not a family event or publicized with the rest of the legal actions planned for the 'Week of Action.'" stated Preston.

Since May 25, 2011, the owners of Arizona Snowbowl, with the support of the U.S. Forest Service and the Flagstaff City Council, have laid over five miles of a 14.8 mile wastewater pipeline and have clearcut over 40 acres of rare alpine forest. A current lawsuit against the Forest Service focusing on the human health impacts of wastewater snowmaking is still under appeal in the 9th Circuit Court.  The individuals involved in today’s action are separate from the Coalition involved in the lawsuit.

The San Francisco Peaks are Holy to more than 13 Indigenous Nations.

They are a place of worship, a place where deities reside, a place where offerings are made, where herbs are gathered, where emergence has occurred, and a location where other sacred religious practices take place .

Monday’s blockade to protect the Peaks 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 and solidarity actions have occurred in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

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