Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 13, 2014

FOIA info request goes after sewage snow damage on sacred San Francisco Peaks

Photo by Protect Peaks

FOIA filed for each document on sewage snow damage on sacred San Francisco Peaks

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona -- The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what damage is being done by the sewage water snow on sacred San Francisco Peaks. The FOIA for "each and every document" on corrosion and damage from sewage snow comes after the Arizona Snowbowl decided that sewage snow for tourists was more important than honoring the area Indian Nations and their healing ceremonies on San Francisco Peaks.

The result of Arizona Snowbowl's victories in court have actually resulted in a disastrous outcome. "The Snowbowl decision destroyed a relationship that was built up over 25 years between the Forest and the tribes working together as colleagues with a shared stewardship responsibility. It has undercut the credibility of the Forest Service with Indian people and has created a breach that will be very difficult to restore," states the Heritage Resources Specialists report.

Klee Benally and Indigenous Action Media in Flagstaff asks for Native American to attend this open house and discussion meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 3 to 7 p.m., and speak out, at Flagstaff Aquaplex, Meeting Room A, 1702 N. Fourth St., Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

Benally points out that there are no meetings scheduled on Indian Nations. Further, the US Forest Service has not considered an alternative to revoke Snowbowl's Special Use Permit. Benally said the Forest Service proposes MOAs (memorandum of agreements) to address the "severely damaged Tribal relationships," but does not indicate any methods to ensure the MOAs will meaningfully address the Snowbowl issue.

You can comment here: Forest Plan Revision email address: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.usU.S. Mail: Coconino National Forest ATTN: Plan Revision 1824 S. Thompson St. Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Phone: 928-527-3600. Tell the receptionist you want to speak to someone about Plan Revision. You will be connected with one of the Plan Revision Core Team members.
Press release and other meetings listed here:

Heritage Resources Specialist Report
PAGE 11-12:

Tribal Relations
Over a period of about 25 years, the Forest steadily built a sensitive, respectful, and productive relationship with the tribes who maintain cultural traditions associated with the land that is now part of the Coconino National Forest. That trusting relationship has been severely damaged by the Forest’s decision to allow snowmaking with treated effluent water as part of the Snowbowl’s expanded development. The tribes have told the Forest that there is no possible mitigation of the adverse effects such development will have to their cultural and spiritual well-being. (my emphasis)
Summary of Alternatives
Most of the areas identified as Heritage topics or projects in the original Forest Plan, the Current Plan, Alternative A, have either been accomplished, have become standard practice over the years, or are no longer issues of concern. There are, however, several topics from that Plan that remain to be addressed by Plan revision:
1. Though following the letter of the law, the reaction by the tribes to the Snowbowl Development decision indicates current policies are inadequate to protect American Indian sacred places and an insensitivity or lack of understanding of the significance of such places in maintaining cultural identity and cultural viability:
2.  Current level of heritage site enhancement and interpretation is inadequate to meet future project demands.
3. Projected future demands for energy development and transmission could cause conflicts with cultural and other resources and uses. (WHAT DO THEY MEAN BY THIS?)
4. The Forest has not prepared a nomination for the General George Crook Military Road to the National Historic Trails System. Only some interpretation, related recreational development, and coordination with the other Forests on which the road is located(Prescott and Apache sitgreaves) has been done
5. There are no management prescriptions/priorities/efforts to survey non-project areas. Priority should be given to Wilderness and Special Areas with predicted high site densities.
6. When designated as Special Areas, natural and cultural resource surveys should be conducted to specifically identify those special values the area contains. Management plans should then be drafted to conserve, protect, enhance, and interpret those values for public knowledge and edification.
Page 13:
Developing tribally specific Memorandae of Agreement would be a priority and efforts would be made to rebuild relationships damaged by the Arizona Snowbowl development decision. Projects and activities may be proposed to more specifically address heritage related issues when needed.

Preferred Alternative:
Alternative B
Alternative B would expand the San Francisco Peaks Research Natural Area and the Strawberry Crater Wilderness Area, create two new Wilderness Areas, one new Research Natural Area, and the Cottonwood Fumeroles Geological Special Area. Most of these have very high archaeological site densities and the San Francisco Peaks and Strawberry Crater Wilderness Area have high cultural significance.
 PAGE 18:
Tribal Relations
Through years of working with Indian tribes that have ancestral, traditional, religious, and cultural values of the lands that are now within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest, the Heritage Program staff has been made aware of many traditional cultural properties within the Forest. Pre-eminent among these are the San Francisco Peaks, which hold deep meaning and significance to at least 13 tribal groups, and are important to various degrees to almost every other tribe in the western United States. Since 1939, a skiing facility has existed on the San
Francisco Peaks, the existence of which is an affront to many Indian people. In the late 1970’s and again in the 2000’s, the Forest Service approved expansions of the facilities at Snowbowl, despite objections from the tribes of the effect those developments would have on the religious and cultural values of their people. Both times, those proposals were challenged by lawsuits that eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court, and both times the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The most recent case focused on Snowbowl’s intent to make artificial snow using
treated effluent water. The most valuable resource for life in the desert Southwest is water. At the core of almost every Southwestern tribe’s culture, religion, and value system is water, and most tribes see the San Francisco Peaks as the single, pre-eminent source of all water, and, therefore, all life. To them, snowmaking is an intrusion into the natural order and an invasion into realms that only higher powers are responsible for. The Snowbowl decision is seen by the tribes as yet another effort by the government to further erode their culture, and without their culture, they can no longer exist as a people.
The Snowbowl decision destroyed a relationship that was built up over 25 years between the Forest and the tribes working together as colleagues with a shared stewardship responsibility. It has undercut the credibility of the Forest Service with Indian people and has created a breach that will be very difficult to restore

Document Link:!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gDfxMDT8MwRydLA1cj72BTUwMTAwgAykeaxRtBeY4WBv4eHmF-YT4GMHkidBvgAI6EdIeDXIvfdrAJuM3388jPTdUvyA2NMMgyUQQAyrgQmg!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfS000MjZOMDcxT1RVODBJN0o2MTJQRDMwODQ!/?project=32780

No comments: