Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Indians say Arizona ski resort desecrates mountains

[Source: David Kravets, AP Legal Affairs Writer] -- A dozen Southwestern Indian tribes plan to ask a federal appeals court here Thursday to block upgrades to an Arizona ski resort they say already desecrates the mountains they hold as sacred. The San Francisco Peaks are said to be the mother of the Navajo, where White Mountain Apache adolescent girls ascend into womanhood in the Sunrise Ceremony. For the Havasupai, the peaks overlooking Flagstaff, are the origin of humans. To the Hopi, they are the point in the physical world defining the tribe. But on the western flank of these peaks, which have names like Humphrey's, Agassiz, Doyle and Fremont, rests what the tribes say is an affront to their religion: the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort.

The tribes say the 777-acre resort in the Coconino National Forest desecrates the land and might be cause for the Sept. 11 attacks, the tsunami, recent hurricanes and the Columbia shuttle crash. The tribes want the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block proposed resort improvements, which include the spraying of machine-generated snow, for fear of more universal ills and further desecration of their land. "The peaks are a single living entity. What they are doing is poisoning that entity and disrupting the spirits that live there and the whole balance of life," said Howard Shanker, a Navajo attorney who will argue before a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]