Monthly Archives: September 2011

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Vote for Western Washington University-Forgotten People Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping

Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping Vote for Western Washington University Forgotten People mapping Project About the submission: The online map developed in this project uses data from the EPA 2007 Abandon Uranium Mines and the Navajo Nation: Atlas with Geospatial Data to give citizens access to basic information on unregulated water sources and abandoned uranium mine features. The map also provides citizens with the basic tools to visulize the spatial elements of potential environmental hazards.

Environmental Justice is a relatively new field for environmental advocacy. One the many attributes that is illustrative of environmental injustice is proximity to pollution. Developments in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the gathering of spatial data have furthered the implications of environmental justice. The GIS technical expertise is not always available to grassroots organizations and thus the spatial nexus is sometimes missing in the struggle for justice. This project was designed to assist the Navajo grassroots organization The Forgotten People in both policy development and participatory mapping.

9/22/2011 Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources: International: Extraction Of Natural Resources A Key Cause Of Abuse Of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights – UN Expert

9/22/2011 Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources: International: Extraction Of Natural Resources A Key Cause Of Abuse Of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights – UN Expert: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, warned Wednesday that indigenous communities’ right to self-determination in the political, social and economic spheres is being threatened by the current model for advancing with natural resource extraction. “Natural resource extraction and other major development projects in or near indigenous territories are one of the most significant sources of abuse of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide,” said Mr. Anaya in his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council.

In it, the expert assessed the response to a questionnaire on the issue he sent out earlier this year to Governments, indigenous peoples and organizations, business corporations and other actors.

“The results show a lack of understanding of basic minimum standards on the impact of extractive industries affecting indigenous peoples and about the role and responsibility of the State to ensure protection of their rights,” he said at a press conference in Geneva, “despite of a shared awareness and concern about the past negative effects of extractive operations for indigenous peoples in many situations.”

Environmental impact

“The gradual loss of control over indigenous lands, territories and natural resources was listed by respondents as a key concern (…) With respect to the negative impact of extractive operations on water resources, it was noted that water resource depletion and contamination has had harmful effects on available water for drinking, farming and grazing cattle, and has affected traditional fishing and other activities, particularly in fragile natural habitats.”

Social and cultural effects

“A second major issue cited by questionnaire respondents focused on the adverse impact of extractive industry operations on indigenous peoples’ social structures and cultures, particularly when those operations result in the loss of lands and natural resources upon which indigenous communities have traditionally relied. In such cases, resource extraction can jeopardize the survival of indigenous groups as distinct cultures that are inextricably connected to the territories they have traditionally inhabited.”

Lack of consultation and participation

“Indigenous peoples, Governments and companies noted that affected indigenous peoples needed to be consulted about and be involved in the operation of natural resource extraction projects that affect them. This need was identified, depending on the identity of the respondent, as both a right affirmed in international and domestic law and a matter of pragmatism: a preventative measure to avoid project opposition and social conflicts that could result in the disruption of project operations.”

Lack of clear regulatory frameworks

“Representatives of business enterprises reported that deficient domestic regulatory frameworks create barriers to carrying out their operations in a way that respects indigenous peoples’ rights and interests. Several businesses contended that this lack of clarity constituted a major obstacle to their ability to undertake their operations in a manner consistent with international expectations regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. In turn, this lack of legal certainty is perceived by corporate actors as a cause of costly conflicts with local indigenous communities.”

The question of tangible benefits

“Contrasting perspectives exist with regard to the benefits of extractive operations. Various Governments and companies identified benefits to indigenous peoples resulting from natural resource extraction projects, while, in general, indigenous peoples and organizations reported that benefits were limited in scope and did not make up for the problems associated with these projects.”

Source: OHCHR

9/23/2011 CENSORED NEWS: A dark shadow in Geneva: Human rights and coal-fired power plants

9/23/2011 CENSORED NEWS: A dark shadow in Geneva: Human rights and coal-fired power plants: When it comes to protecting human rights, you can’t pick and choose. When it comes to Mother Earth, that’s like saying ‘I only raped her a little.’ By Brenda Norrell: Navajo President Ben Shelly plans to be in Geneva for the UN Human Rights Council report on sacred places. Hopefully President Shelly will say that he will no longer push for another coal-fired power plant on Navajoland, and bring to an end those that are there. Coal-fired power plants in the US are a primary reason for the melting of Arctic ice. The result is that Native villages are dropping into the sea and polar bears and other wildlife are dying due to the loss of habitat. President Shelly recently pushed for the building of another coal-fired power plant, Desert Rock, which would be the third on Navajoland in the Farmington, N.M., area, with another power plant at Page, Ariz. Peabody coal mines on Black Mesa have long desecrated the sacred places of Big Mountain and elsewhere on Black Mesa, poisoning the land, depleting the aquifer, poisoning and drying up the springs, polluting the air and causing respiratory diseases.

President Shelly, according to the news, will be at Special Rapporteur James Anaya’s report on human rights and sacred places in Geneva. So hopefully someone will point out, as they usually do, that when it comes to protecting human rights, you can’t pick and choose. When it comes to Mother Earth, that’s like saying ‘I only raped her a little.’

9/23/2011 Gallup Independent: Forgotten People gets first list of expenditures in accounting suit

Show me the money Glenna Begay (left), Leta O’Daniel and Lena Nez traveled to Window Rock Wednesday for a district court hearing on Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund monies. 9/23/2011 Gallup Independent: Forgotten People gets first list of expenditures in accounting suit By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – The grassroots group Forgotten People took the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission to court Wednesday and compelled the disclosure of how federal trust fund monies were spent.

In response to an accounting lawsuit filed in August 2010 by their attorney, James W. Zion of Albuquerque, Navajo Nation Assistant Attorney General Henry Howe turned over eight pages of information pertaining to how the Land Commission spent Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund monies designed to help Navajos displaced by the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.

The trust fund was established by Congress in 1974 for improvement of the economic, educational and social condition of families and Navajo communities affected by the division of the former Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area.

Approximately 30 members of the Forgotten People, most of them elderly, traveled three hours or more from Western Navajo Agency to Window Rock District Court for the hearing before Judge T.J. Holgate.

Howe said the case involved hundreds of projects between 1990 and 2009, and that record-keeping was not very good in the early years of 1990-95. A draft summary showed expenditures amounted to $16.8 million and included $14,500 to a Navajo Nation Council delegate whose home had burned.

“They bought him a new house, and I’m going to ask why did that Council delegate get that house,” Zion said. “Why did he get a house when people on waiting lists didn’t get houses?” Howe asked the judge about the confidentiality of that information, however, Holgate said that as long as they were within the bounds of the law, he didn’t mind the discussion.

The judge also was firm about setting some time parameters for the attorneys due to a previous lack of dialog on the part of the Navajo Nation. Howe said the parties had not met because he had just been given the information. “We have given a draft summary of receipts for Mr. Zion to share with his clients and we believe this demonstrates more than a good-faith effort on the part of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission,” he said.

Howe also offered to have all documents together by November, and to make a presentation between December and April to all chapters impacted by the trust fund.

Holgate gave the attorneys from October to December to exchange information and said he will set another hearing for January. The attorneys are to present a joint report to the judge 10 days prior to the hearing outlining what they have done.

The Navajo-Hopi Land Commission was represented at the hearing by Raymond Maxx, executive director; Lorenzo Curley, chairman; and Thomas Benally.

“The people that were here, they’re the very reason why we’re here ourselves,” Maxx said. “We serve them and they need to be more comfortable on how we handle and do things.” It takes a lot of personnel time to account for numbers, he said, and having Administration Building 1, which houses the financial section, closed due to black mold, has not helped.

“We rely on the Division of Finance for some of our numbers. When we ask for information, it takes a long time and sometimes they’re not the same, depending on who you talk to; so I hope the Nation really takes a look at funding our Finance Department adequately to where we’re accountable.”

Curley said that when he became a commission member in 2005, they were already buying property for the purpose of commerce. Back in the early 1980s, the Navajo Nation was looking at Paragon Ranch as a source of coal, and a decision was made to go after that property using Relocation funds to acquire it. Subsequently, the Nation abandoned that plan.

“Now we have thousands of acres over there, we can’t really use it for anything. My view is we’ve got to salvage this situation in some way. One of the ways that we’re looking at is to use the property for solar. There has been some talk about coal gasification and some investors have been talking with the officials about that, but we haven’t seen anything develop from that yet,” he said.

At a meeting with the Forgotten People at Veterans Park following the hearing, Zion elaborated on the court’s action.

“When Congress told the Navajo Tribe that it could take out so much land in New Mexico and so much land in Arizona, there’s a thing in there that says that any time the Navajo Nation gets that land, it is to be used for the benefit of Navajos who have not yet been relocated. What that means is Rena Babbitt Lane (who lives on HPL) owns the Twin Arrows Casino!” Zion said.

Regarding Paragon Ranch near Farmington, he said some of the relocatees went to look at the land and talked about getting homes there, but “what really happened was the Navajo Nation picked that land because of the coal, and they were going to make a whole bunch of money selling coal to the power plant.”

Congress, when it authorized $10 million a year for six years to help the Navajos that were affected by the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, also stipulated that the Navajo Nation had to repay that money to the United States, Zion said.

“The Congress of the United States created these two trusts. The Secretary of the Interior is responsible to oversee the trust. Where is the oversight? You’ve got another situation exactly like the Cobell case, and I’m wondering if the United States is not looking over the Navajo Nation’s shoulder to make sure you folks are treated right in all this,” he said.

Vice President Rex Lee Jim joined the Forgotten People as they sat under the trees near the statue of the Navajo Code Talker and was immediately bombarded with questions and concerns. He extended an invitation to the people to be open and honest, and to meet with him so they can work together on issues such as health, housing and water.

Edith Holmes, a U.S. military veteran from Tuba City, told Jim, “We’ve made the sacrifices. The people need to have their needs addressed. Now we hear that a casino is being built and they’re going to get the necessary amenities – infrastructure like running water and things like that – and we don’t get nothing.” When her home burned she came to Window Rock for assistance, she said. “We just get the run-around.”

Leta O’Daniel, who lives on Hopi Partitioned Land at Big Mountain, asked for Jim’s help. “All the roads to the windmills where the waters are, are all washed out,” she said. “We can’t go get water, we can’t get things we need to keep our lives moving forward, so I’m here to plead on behalf of my people. There’s many needs that need to be addressed on HPL.”

Norris Nez, a medicine man whose family once had a farm plot in Sand Springs before they were fenced off from the water sources by Hopi, said there are many other issues besides the land dispute that are affecting the people. “Water is being given away … Why aren’t you protecting those resources that are vital for the life of the people?

“The people hear a recurring theme – ‘No money,’” he said. “Because of that and problems with leadership, it feels like the lights are dimming and going out on us on the west end.”

Grace Smith Yellowhammer of Teesto said many of the youth have been made homeless by Relocation, and have turned to drugs and alcohol while living in border towns. She pleaded with Jim to make a difference. “Please, take care of our youth. One day they’re going to be like us. We don’t want them to come over here and start begging.”

9/22/2011 US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

9/22/2011 US EPA: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: EPA Press Office,, 202-564-6794: Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: As prepared for delivery: Chairman Stearns, Ranking Member DeGette and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to testify on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory process. It is a priority of the EPA and of this Administration, to ensure that our regulatory system is guided by science and that it protects human health and the environment in a pragmatic and cost effective manner.

One means by which this Administration has made this priority clear is through Executive Order 13563, which includes a directive for federal agencies to develop a regulatory retrospective plan for periodic review of existing significant regulations. Under that directive, EPA has developed a plan which includes 35 priority regulatory reviews. Recent reforms, already finalized or formally proposed, are estimated to save up to $1.5 billion over the next 5 years.

But let me be clear: the core mission of the EPA is protection of public health and the environment. That mission was established in recognition of a fundamental fact of American life – regulations can and do improve the lives of people. We need these rules to hold polluters accountable and keep us safe. For more than 40 years, the Agency has carried out its mission and established a proven track record that a healthy environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive.

The Clean Air Act is one of the most successful environmental laws in American history and provides an illustrative example of this point.

For 40 years, the nation’s Clean Air Act has made steady progress in reducing the threats posed by pollution and allowing us to breathe easier. In the last year alone, programs implemented pursuant to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 are estimated to have saved over 160,000 lives; spared Americans more than 100,000 hospital visits; and prevented millions of cases of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and asthma.

Few of the regulations that gave us these huge gains in public health were uncontroversial at the time they were developed. Most major rules have been adopted amidst claims that they would be bad for the economy and bad for employment.

In contrast to doomsday predictions, history has shown, again and again, that we can clean up pollution, create jobs, and grow our economy all at the same time. Over the same 40 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, the Gross Domestic Product of the United States grew by more than 200 percent.

Some would have us believe that “job killing” describes EPA’s regulations. It is misleading to say that enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws is bad for the economy and employment. It isn’t.

Families should never have to choose between a job and a healthy environment. They are entitled to both.

We must regulate sensibly – in a manner that does not create undue burdens and that carefully considers both the benefits and the costs. However, in doing so, we must not lose sight of the reasons for implementation of environmental regulations: These regulations are necessary to ensure that Americans have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Americans are no less entitled to a safe, clean environment during difficult economic times than they are in a more prosperous economy.

As President Obama recently stated in his Joint Address to Congress, “…what we can’t do…is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades…We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom where we try to offer the…worst pollution standards.”

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I look forward to your questions.

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9/16/2011 Navajo Generating Station blamed for haze over Grand Canyon, respiratory illnesses But Native American activists say new study ignores health impacts

9/16/2011 Colorado Independent: Navajo Generating Station blamed for haze over Grand Canyon, respiratory illnesses But Native American activists say new study ignores health impacts: By David O. Williams: Residents of the Navajo and Hopi reservations in the Four Corners region are dismayed that a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) on the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz., “clearly omits consideration of the coal-burning plant’s pollution impacts on public health.” During public meetings in Phoenix the last two days, activist groups have been rallying support for looming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean-air regulations that would compel the plant to install the best retrofit technology available to scrub nitrogen oxide emissions from its smokestack. Besides respiratory problems for area residents, critics blame the 42-year-old power plant for haze over Grand Canyon National Park.

Last month the EPA ordered major pollution controls within five years at San Juan Generating Station 15 miles west of Farmington, N.M., ordering the facility to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent. Colorado lawmakers were seeking to avoid similar federal regulations when they approved the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act that requires the conversion of aging coal-fired power plants on the Front Range to natural gas or renewable energy.

Conservation groups say the Department of Interior — whose Bureau of Reclamation owns the largest chunk of the Navajo power plant – is pressuring EPA to delay its ruling until the Golden, Colo.-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) can complete the first phase of an overall study on operations at the Navajo Generating Station. The plant, collectively owned by the Salt River Project, provides electricity in Arizona, Nevada and California and also supplies power to pump water through the Central Arizona Project.

“The pollution, health, and water impacts of Navajo Generating Station are huge costs — human and financial and environmental,” said Nikke Alex, a member of the Navajo Nation. “The fact that they’re ignored in the Department of Interior’s study is glaring and should be alarming for everyone in our region. Since the Department of Interior owns so much of this plant, there’s concern they may be using their influence to avoid an accounting of the true costs of keeping it running.”

As many as 18,000 homes on the Navajo Nation are completely off the grid despite the presence of nearby coal-fired power plants, which local health officials blame for a wide range of respiratory problems. But Republican lawmakers from Arizona have been actively trying to thwart the EPA push for cleaner air in the region, holding hearings and targeting various congressional committees.

U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar and Trent Franks sent a letter to the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power and the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs arguing the EPA regulations could cost jobs and endanger the state’s power and water supply. They blasted what they deemed “burdensome regulations that threaten the viability of the plant.”

“The plant and associated mine provides nearly 1,000 jobs in northern Arizona, is critical to the livelihood of the Pinal County and Native American agricultural community, and is essential to supplying water to 80 percent of the state’s population,” Gosar said. “We must carefully examine regulations that could threaten the state of Arizona’s water and power supply.”

Navajo and Hopi activists counter that they’ve suffered greatly from increased asthma and other respiratory problems traced to the plant. They also pointed to a study by the American Lung Association that found the Phoenix metro area is “one of the 25 worst of 277 U.S. metro areas for ozone pollution and is the second worst area in the nation for year-round exposure to fine particle pollution.”

Still, Navajo plant operators have reportedly indicated they might have to shutter the facility if the EPA requires the retrofits, which critics claim could unnecessarily cost more than $1 billion.


Poisoning people and the environment including the waters and the fish that swim there is not a fair trade off for a thousand jobs and cheap electricity.

I remember coming over Wolf Creek pass one evening some 30-35 years ago marveling at the spectacular technicolor sunset, only to be dismayed by my companions explanation that the colors were due to the refraction of light through the same pollution as the nightly smog in Denver,Phoenix,L.A.etc.The source of that was the Page plant which incidentally was readily identifiable from space by Apollo astronauts because it was so immense and isolated.

The notion that this plant will close before adapting to more stringent EPA regulations is ludicrous-just more of the corporate right’s scare tactics designed to intimidate low information voters.The manufacture ,installation ,and maintenance of high tech scrubbers will not only protect our health and environment ,but obviously create MORE jobs-as compliance with most regulations do.The insatiable greed of corporate utility operators [who already have all the advantages of a complete monopoly of an essential service,largely subsidized by taxpayers] is the only interest that does not benefit from these changes.

Not all Navajo or Hopi are dismayed. Some of us are actually elated with the idea of stopping haze and any related health issue that it may caused. Your wording is rather affront.

9/19/2011 Gallup Independent: Peabody seeks permit renewal for Kayenta Mine

9/19/2011 Gallup Independent: Peabody seeks permit renewal for Kayenta Mine By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – Peabody Western Coal Co. has filed an application with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to renew its permit for mining operations at Kayenta Mine through July 5, 2015. Peabody submitted an application to OSM to renew the permit in February 2010, and proposes to continue mining in coal resource areas N-9, J-19, and J-21 from July 6, 2010, through July 5, 2015. The proposed permit renewal does not include any revisions to the mining and operations plan or the addition of any new mining areas.

“The Kayenta Mine is moving through a routine five-year permit renewal process covering the mine plan, land restoration plan and other activities related to ongoing operations, which is consistent with current operations,” Beth Sutton, director of Corporate Communications for Peabody Energy, said.

OSM has prepared an environmental assessment to evaluate environmental effects from the permit renewal. Comments must be submitted by Oct. 22 to be considered.

The Kayenta Mine permit area is located on approximately 44,073 acres of land leased from the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe. Peabody holds leases to mine up to 670 million tons of coal from reserves within the permit area. As of July 2010, 20,851 acres within the permit area had been disturbed.

Mining activities within the lease area would result in a moderate, short-term impact, according to OSM and would disturb 1,159 acres of land used for grazing and traditional land uses. However, the federal agency said reclamation of the disturbed areas would improve the productivity and quality of grazing lands.

“The mine has a record of good environmental compliance, and typically returns mined lands to a condition that is as much as 20 times more productive for rangeland than native areas,” Sutton said.

Within the J-21 coal resource area, four of the 83 occupied houses within the Kayenta Mine permit area would be relocated. Residents would be compensated for the replacement of all structures and for lost grazing acreage if they can establish a customary use area claim.

According to the Finding of No Significant Impact, Peabody has committed to replace three windmill wells that have or would be removed by mining. Any other water supply that could be adversely impacted by mining during the five-year permit term would be replaced.

Annual groundwater use for domestic and mine-related purposes from the Navajo aquifer would average 1,236 acre-feet per year, or 70 percent less than was used prior to 2006 when the coal slurry pipeline was operating.

Water quantity use impacts to the N-aquifer are expected to be negligible to minor, and no endangered or threatened species are expected to be directly affected because there is no predicted decrease of flows in seeps and springs associated with the N-aquifer, OSM said. Pumping has been primarily occurring within the confined part of the N-aquifer, and the agency said water levels are rising or are predicted to rise because less groundwater is being used since the coal slurry pipeline was discontinued.

The number of people employed at the Kayenta Mine will increase from 422 in 2010 to 432 in 2015. The average annual revenue paid to the tribes from 2005-2009 was $43.2 million, plus an additional average annual payment of $6.2 million to Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and scholarship funds, according to OSM. These revenues are expected to continue.

“Kayenta Mine is a powerful economic force in the region creating 400 jobs and nearly $370 million in direct and indirect economic benefits for regional communities,” Sutton said. “We look forward to an efficient and timely review as part of the customary stakeholder process.”

Kayenta Mine ships approximately 8 million tons of coal annually to Navajo Generating Station.

Information: or (303) 293-5035. E-mail comments to

American Physical Society (APS): Nobel physicist quits US group over climate stance

Nobel physicist quits US group over climate stance: Norwegian physicist and Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever has quit a major US physics society due to its stance on global warming, a spokeswoman for the group told AFP Thursday. “I can confirm he has resigned,” American Physical Society spokeswoman Tawanda Johnson said, noting that Giaever, 82, sent a letter to that effect to the group’s executive director Kate Kirby on Tuesday. “His reason is that he takes issue with APS’s stance on climate change.”

The APS, which is a member organization of 48,000, adopted a national policy statement in 2007 which states: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.”

Last year another climate change skeptic, University of California professor Hal Lewis, left the group, claiming global warming was a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”

In a statement issued after Lewis’s departure, APS said that “on the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree… carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity.”

Giaever, who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics for his “experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in semiconductors,” did not respond to an AFP email requesting comment.

Johnson stressed that Giaever’s position represented the minority in the scientific community, and that while APS is “disappointed” at his departure it does not intend to change its position.

“We don’t have members resigning in droves or anything like that,” she said

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
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9/17/2011 Gallup Independent: Options discussed to save the Peaks from reclaimed water use at Snowbowl

9/17/2011 Gallup Independent: Options discussed to save the Peaks from reclaimed water use at Snowbowl By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, next week to hear U.N. Special Rapporteur James Anaya’s report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on the protection of sacred sites. On the home front, efforts will continue to ensure reclaimed water is not used to desecrate the sacred San Francisco Peaks. Some present and former Navajo Nation Council members and a representative of Dine Hataalii Association met in August with officials from the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort to discuss options to stop the use of reclaimed water for artificial snow-making at the resort.

A preferred alternative would be to support amending the U.S. Forest Service permit to allow the use of well water drawn from land at the base of the mountain owned by the Snowbowl. A water source that does not rely on Flagstaff’s water treatment plant and is not connected to the city system would ensure reclaimed water is not used.

Ivan Gamble of LeChee, who does not work for any of the entities involved and said he has never skied at the Snowbowl, has been trying to facilitate discussions between Navajo, Hopi and Snowbowl owners.

“We used to have a very good working relationship with the tribes back in the mid-’90s when we supplied a lot of logs for reconstruction of the villages and the kivas,” Eric Borowsky, Snowbowl general partner, said Friday. “Then once we started the upgrade proposal, the Forest Service said we could no longer have direct communication with the tribes, it all had to be government to government.”

Borowsky said he has been trying to come up with an alternative water source. “We do have permission to use reclaimed water, but I know the tribes would like a different source of water. I’m very happy to work with them to try to come up with an alternate solution and to return to the days when we had a very good working relationship.”

The possibility of drilling wells has been mentioned, he said, but whether to move forward on that option would be up to the tribes. “They have to take a formal position on this matter and then we’ll have to work together to try to make it happen.”

Jerry Honawa, 74, of Hotevilla, a member of the Tobacco Clan and the Pure Moon Society, has started a petition to obtain signatures of traditional practitioners from various villages and kivas at Hopi.

San Francisco Peaks, or Nuvatukyaovi in Hopi, is considered the “Temple of the Gods,” Honawa said Friday. “From what we are taught about our migration, this is one of the farthest northern temples from the migration from way down South America somewhere. They left temples along the way, and this is the last one on this continent.”

Honawa does not condone the string of protests which have been taking place in Flagstaff and Albuquerque. “The way it is done does not signify anything that a practitioner or a medicine man would be doing.” The proper way would be dialog across the table, he said, “rather than on the street corner yelling my lungs out. This is the way I believe and this is the way I was raised.”

Honawa does not speak for the kikmongwis, or traditional village chiefs, because Hotevilla doesn’t have a kikmongwi anymore. “They’re kind of extinct,” he said. “But we do have acting people that are kind of like the leaders within the village.”

In addition, each kiva has a person they look to as their leader for whichever clan is responsible for that kiva, he said. “We have six of them here. Out of the six, three are the responsibility of the Snake Clan and the Sand Clan, one is the Badger/Butterfly, one of them is the Sun Clan, and the other is the Spider/Bluebird.”

As the Tobacco Clan patriarch, Honawa visits most of the kivas, he said. “Tobacco is at every kiva and I go to each one of them at certain periods of time. I am also a member of the Pure Moon Society, and that is where the smoke hazing of the Katsinam (Hopi ancestral spirits) is prevalent. That’s the kiva of the Badger Clan People, where the Pure Moon Society has their headquarters, basically.”

The Hopi believe that the Katsinam are responsible for moisture and that the installation of snow-making technology within the 777-acre special use permit area would alter the natural processes of the San Francisco Peaks and the responsibilities of the Katsinam. The use of reclaimed water, especially, would contaminate the natural resources needed to perform the required ceremonies that are the basis of Hopi cultural identity.

Hopis often are asked why they aren’t seen when they make their pilgrimages to Nuvatukyaovi. The reason is “a lot of this is done in a sacred way to where it is not for the public eye,” Honawa said.

“One of my first experiences, when my grandfather was still with us, I took him there; and when we saw these people, he said, ‘Act like we’re not doing anything special.’ We acted like tourists, and then when the people were gone, then we continued. These are some of the things that they practice and they asked us to carry it like that.”

Honawa’s petition states that the signers do not support artificial snow-making. “This issue has gone on too long, has been fought in the wrong places. We support the compromise being fashioned between the various entities and hope they are able to secure a compromise based on good faith and mutual understanding.”

A focus group from Navajo District 5, which is comprised of elders from Birdsprings, Leupp and Tolani Lake, said it would be less offensive to use well water on the mountain, known to Navajo as Dook’o’oosliid, rather than reclaimed water. Dine Hataalii Association reportedly is weighing the option and has not issued an outright objection.