Sunday, October 2, 2011

saving the peaks; the people speak (2)

in flagstaff, az there is an effort on the part of the navajo and hopi tribes to not use reclaimed waste water on a local ski resort, the snowbowl.   thirteen surrounding tribes hold the san francisco peaks, where the ski area is to be, a sacred mountain.  the tribes believe that deities within their respective comoslogies reside there.  to use reclaimed waste water is considered a desecration in a place where indigenous people go regularly to pray, collect herbs and to be in the presence of the holy ones.

protests have been ongoing since clear cutting the alpine forest began in may of this year.  they've occurred primarily at the mountain.  of late, artists have begun creating work around this issue.  two young navajo artists were recently arrested in downtown flagstaff for doing a series of thoughtful installations.  they made an alter from corn stalks and wrote incantations to protect the san francisco peaks in mud on the sides of buildings and on the sidewalk.

all photos by the artist

flagstaff writer and nurturing spirit, liz moser composed an ode in response to the arrests...

two young diné wrote mud love letters to the mountain on flagstaff sidewalks and walls.
they set up corn stalk altars, pale green corn rising up from dark earth.
a cop caught the artists with a bucket of mud and arrested them for criminal damage.

the two worlds pull further and further apart.  
water, earth and corn are not parts of a living circle.
     water, earth and corn are not parts of a living circle.
they are criminal damage bearing witness is disorderly conduct.
mountain love is a misdemeanor.

the two worlds pull further and further apart. 
we are still free to choose where we will stand.
the alternative is annihilation.

meanwhile, in this age of dwindling water resources, many ski resorts use a mixture of reclaimed waste water and potable water to make artificial snow.  reclaimed water is commonly used on golf courses as well.  the snowbowl is slated to be the only resort in the world to use 100% reclaimed waste water to make snow.  as construction continues, a lawsuit centering on the human health effects of using reclaimed waste water to make artificial snow is currently under appeal in the 9th circuit court in san francisco.  this same court has ruled previously in favor of snowbowl.  local activist groups will make one final oral argument before a final decision is made by the end of this month.  hence, time is of the essence.

for the city of flagstaff and local businesses, the issue is commerce.  for local tribes and the mountain's nonnative supporters, the issue is the protection of sacred sites.  it's become a contentious issue that's divided the town.  

flagstaff is a college town and is 2 hours away from phoenix, the 5th largest metropolis in the u.s.  phoenicians, college students and some flagstaff locals frequent the ski resort.  the city government predicts that the city will make millions of dollars each winter from having predictable and consistent snow while not acknowledging the contribution to commerce made by surrounding indigenous tribes.  it's been long predicted by edward abbey and others that future conflicts in the southwest will be over water + water rights.  the battle has begun. 

for more information in the fight to not ski the pee, check:

there's a plethora of great bumper stickers addressing this issue as well.  my favorite besides "don't ski the pee" is "flagstaff's snowbowl - serving effluent to the affluent."

more to come...


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