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SAN FRANCISCO - In what is considered a major setback for several Southwest American Indian tribes, a three member panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled unanimously in favor of Arizona Snowbowl. This highly publicized case was argued last month. The tribes want to stop the ski resort's plan to install a snowmaking system using sewer water turned into reclaimed water.
The San Francisco Peaks are considered sacred to the tribes. The Navajo Nation, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai Apache and the White Mountain Apache tribes, have tried for over ten years to halt the plan.
"We are disheartened by the opinion issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The San Francisco Peaks are within our traditional boundaries and within our realm of dwelling. We make offerings to the Peaks; we have prayers and songs that incorporate not only the San Francisco Peaks, but all of elements of life. This court decision to potentially allow the use of reclaimed water to generate snow negates our inherited traditional foundations."
Stated Navajo President Ben Shelly and Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim in a joint statement.
The statement continues:
“However, the strength of our cultural teachings will persevere, just as they have in historical times when our traditional beliefs were attacked and violated by the larger society.”
"It is unfortunate that the courts and federal government have failed to broaden their scope of the cultural understanding regarding the San Francisco Peaks, as we aren't the only Indian tribal nation to behold these peaks as part of the essence of life. The Peaks provide harmony and balance in our lives."
"We will continue to consolidate our efforts to educate America about the holy value of the San Francisco Peaks and sacred sites. This effort will include neighboring Indian Nations who hold sacred sites in the same significant value."
posted February 11, 2012 7:50 am est
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