Tag Archives: Dook’o’osliid

12/21/2011 NNHRC opposes groundwater use for artificial snowmaking on Dook’o’osliid

The council needs to reject this proposed legislation [No. 0420-11],” said Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie. … “The central question of the issue is our argument that the Snowbowl Ski enterprise and the U.S. Forest Service are infringing on the religious freedom rights of 13 indigenous nations of Arizona. We continue to argue that position and that position must remain at the forefront and not take away from it by discussing what water should be used to make artificial snow.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011: NNHRC opposes groundwater use for artificial snowmaking on Dook’o’osliid: ST. MICHAELS, Ariz.—The heart of the issue is the infringement of indigenous human rights in the matter of religious freedom stated a Navajo human rights official about the off- course legislation set for a vote by the Navajo Nation on Thursday, December 22, 2011, in Window Rock, Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission opposed Honorable Walter Phelps’ Legislation No. 0420-11, 3-0, on November 4, 2011, to send a responsible consistent message to the Navajo Nation to protect the integrity of Dook’o’osliid from irreversible adverse effects.

“The [Navajo Nation Human Rights] Commission hereby opposes Legislation No. 0420-11 which supports the use of groundwater to be used to produce artificial snow on the San Francisco Peaks for recreational and economic purposes,” according to NNHRCNOV-09-11 legislation. “The [Navajo Nation Human Rights] Commission further recommends that the Navajo Nation Council continue to support the Special Rapporteur report regarding the San Francisco Peaks and that true consultation – in the context of free, prior and informed consent—occur through procedures of dialogue aimed at a consensus on protecting the San Francisco Peaks from further desecration.”

Hon. Walter Phelps introduced the “groundwater legislation” on October 6, 2011, and it was assigned to the Resources and Development Committee where members narrowly opposed it on October 25, 2011, and to the Náabik’iyáti’ Committee of the 22ndNavajo Nation Council set to address it on Thursday, December 22, 2011.

The upcoming groundwater legislation, which has received written public scrutiny, states, “The Navajo Nation believes it is in the best interest of the Navajo People that groundwater rather than reclaimed or recovered-reclaimed water be used to make artificial snow thereby preventing Dook’o’osliid from being desecrated by reclaimed or recovered-reclaimed water.”

“The council needs to reject this proposed legislation [No. 0420-11],” said Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie. “If it were to approve the legislation, it would send a mixed signal and demonstrate to the world that the Náabik’iyáti’ Committee is taking a position that is adverse to the established position of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, the Diné medicine groups, the Hopi Nation, the 10 other Arizona tribes and concerned citizen groups.”

Yazzie continued, “The central question of the issue is our argument that the Snowbowl Ski enterprise and the U.S. Forest Service are infringing on the religious freedom rights of 13 indigenous nations of Arizona. We continue to argue that position and that position must remain at the forefront and not take away from it by discussing what water should be used to make artificial snow.”

“It is also a basic premise that ‘making’ snow is not within the domain of human kind,” said Yazzie. “Instead that is a power reserved by the Creator and we, as Christians or traditional believers to infringe on that power or support it, is a desecration in itself of the highest order.”

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Rachelle Todea, Public Information Officer

Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission

P.O. Box 1689

Window Rock, Navajo Nation (AZ)  86515

Phone: (928) 871-7436

Fax: (928) 871-7437

rtodea@navajo-nsn.gov

www.nnhrc.navajo-nsn.gov

“Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,” according to Article 3 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, G.A. Res. 61/295, U.N. Doc A/RES/295 (Sept. 13, 2007), 46 I.L.M 1013 (2007).

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.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM at City Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM at City Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz. On the Use and Preservation of Dook’o’osliid: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ST. MICHAELS, Ariz.—The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing to give Navajo citizens an opportunity to give oral testimony, written information, or send written testimony to NNHRC about Dook’o’osliid as they relate to use, need for preservation, protection and other issues on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 5 p.m. at City Hall in Flagstaff, Ariz.

NNHRC is established under the legislative oversight of the Naabik’iyati’ Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council. NNHRC advocates for recognition of Navajo human rights and directly networks at the local, state, national and international level to assess the state-of-affairs between Navajos and non-Navajos by conducting public hearings. NNHRC also investigates written complaints involving discrimination of Navajo citizens and addresses the public about human rights and the Navajo Nation’s intolerance of human rights violations.

The mission of the NNHRC is “[t]o protect and promote the human rights of Navajo Nation citizens by advocating human equality at the local, state, national and international levels based on the Diné principles of Si’a Naaghai Bik’eh Hózhóó, Hashkéejí, Hózhóójí and K’é.” The Diné principles translate to being resilient, content, disciplined and maintaining peaceful relationships with all creation.

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If a willing participant cannot make the hearing, NNHRC will accept a written testimony by mail. Be sure to include your full name, date, and chronological history of events pertaining to your concern about sacred sites, also, state the problem, and state the solution you want if you have one to recommend. Send your testimony to: Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, P.O. Box 1689, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

For more information, call the NNHRC at (928) 871-7436 or visit the NNHRC website at www.nnhrc.navajo-nsn.gov.

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5/3/2011 Indian Country Today: USDA Rules Changes Could Affect San Francisco Peaks’ Wastewater Ruling

5/3/2011 Indian Country Today By ICTMN Staff: USDA Rules Changes Could Affect San Francisco Peaks’ Wastewater Ruling: For years, American Indians have been working to get consideration paid to sacred sites. Now, in the wake of U.S. approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, it seems that at least some government agencies are listening.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service is revising its policy on sacred Native sites that lie on U.S. Forest Service lands, and as part of the retooling process has held a series of listening sessions with American Indian leaders and tribe members this year. Now officials are preparing a document for comment in June, and will send out the final draft by November 2011.


“We need your help to examine the effectiveness of existing laws and regulations as well as recommendations for future policy or guidelines that will ensure a consistent level of sacred site protection that is more acceptable to tribes,” the USDA Office of Tribal Relations wrote to leaders in November 2010, when the process began.

What they’re trying to do is make changes that better protect sacred sites, said Rodney Tahe, Navajo, a policy analyst with the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (NNHRC).

“It’s progress,” said Tahe. “We’ll see what comes out of it. Right now we’re just waiting for them to draft the report.”

Any rules changes—it’s up to USDA head Tom Vilsack to say yay or nay—could have major implications for the San Francisco Peaks outside Flagstaff, Arizona, which came up in the discussions, Tahe said. A controversial plan to make snow out of reconstituted wastewater for skiing has been permitted so far, but new USDA rules could cancel that out, he said, since the peaks fall under USDA jurisdiction.

“If you reverse the decision about approved wastewater usage on Dook’o’osliid (San Francisco Peaks), then these listening session will have made an impact,” said Chief Duane “Chili” Yazzie at the last hearing, according to a Navajo Nation statement.

In St. Michaels, Arizona, on March 16 about 80 people, plus NNHRC members, attended the final day of the listening sessions at the Shiprock Chapter House on the Navajo Nation, the statement said. About 40 attended the meeting at the Coalmine Canyon Chapter House near Tuba City, and 50 the one at the Navajo Nation Museum.

More information is available from the USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations.