Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 9, 2012

Ninth Circuit rules against Save the Peaks 2012

on Peaks 2011
Photos by
Youths of Peaks
Ninth Circuit court bias mirrored in racist Arizona media

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Ninth Circuit Court ruled against Save the Peaks, struggling to protect the sacred Peaks, from the plan of the Arizona Snowbowl to make snow for ski tourists with sewage water. The Peaks are sacred to 13 area Indian Nations, and a place where medicine people carry out ceremonies and gather healing plants.
The court's ruling revealed bias as it upheld the lower district court ruling, and used insulting language toward the Native Americans who filed the case to protect the sacred Peaks.
The court decision is especially troubling since Native American youths have struggled repeatedly and with diligence to protect the sacred Peaks. (See court decision below.)
The court's bias was mirrored in the Arizona media, including AP and the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, Ariz.,  which continued a pattern of racism and unfairness toward Native Americans. AP and the Arizona Daily Sun have engaged in a pattern of promoting desecrating corporations, while refusing to cover Native American issues.
Supporters of Save the Peaks urged a global boycott of the Arizona Snowbowl, and urged skiers to tell the Snowbowl they will no longer ski there due to the fact that the Snowbowl dishonors Native Americans and desecrates sacred land.
Save the Peaks attorney Howard Shanker said, "I believe that it is a sad day for the earth, the people, and our broken system of justice."
"I think the opinion is wrong on the merits and the panel's commentary reflects a gross misunderstanding of the nature of the case and the parties. There was no abuse of the judicial process," Shanker told Censored News today.
"Indeed, I would never engage in any activity that could contribute to any sort of abuse of the judicial process. There are laws, rules, and binding precedent that are in place to ensure that cases representing a gross abuse of the judicial process cannot be pursued to the merits. Properly so, none of those precautionary measures apply to the facts and history of this case.
"I also believe that the panel's pro-defendant bias was evident at the oral argument.  With regard to the bigger picture, there is an evident flaw in our system of justice when, inter alia, one panel can rule unanimously that the NEPA process was inadequate as a matter of law, while the instant panel rules unanimously that the same NEPA process was adequate as a matter of law - based on the exact same facts and law.  If there is any gross abuse of the judicial process, it is reflected in the inconsistency of the panel decisions.
"This case involves a non-destination ski area's attempt to use 100% reclaimed sewer water to make snow for recreational purposes. Something that is not done anywhere else in the world. The ski area will also post signs suggesting that people should not eat the snow because it is made from non-potable water. There are no federal treatment standards for reclaimed sewer water.
"The U.S. EPA has, however, recently confirmed that reclaimed water is a major source of the release of endocrine disrupting compounds into the environment - drugs that block or mimic normal hormone activity.
"We also know that there are a host of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) that do not get adequately treated out of this water. I find it disconcerting that the federal government, including the judiciary, appear to believe that the Snowbowl Ski area is "too big to fail", notwithstanding the potential for a long term public health threat and the significant fact that this ski area is located on federal land that is well documented as sacred to 13 of the tribes in the southwestern United States. 
 "I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the prospect of seeking review of the decision with my clients," Shanker said.
Ninth Circuit rules against Save the Peaks 2012

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