After decades of organizing to protect the San Francisco Peaks, a mountain in Northern, Arizona held holy by more than 13 Indigenous Nations, from ski area expansion and a proposal to build a 14.8 mile pipeline from the City of Flagstaff to spray up to 180 million gallons of treated sewage from the City of Flagstaff for fake snow, after nearly 40 arrests in direct actions to stop excavators and pipeline development, after complaints and testimony to the UN regarding religious freedom violations, after witnessing the devastation and desecration of this holy site, we continue to struggle and find ways to connect our efforts with others embroiled in the same battles.
In 2014, organizers with the Protect the Peaks effort made an intentional decision to shift messaging from “defend” and not “protect” the sacred.
Earlier in 2014 a non-profit group coopted the messaging “Protect the Sacred,” something we had used for years to connect struggles regarding sacred places, to elevate and relate and build the overall effort into a larger movement. They turned the message into a brand to sell their work and fund large scale murals with heavy price tags. The matter was that the message was disconnected from the actual sacred sites struggles. Somehow no funds ever made their way to the frontlines. This disconnect was an erasure.
When we shifted messaging we wanted to represent the power of the holy San Francisco Peaks as embodied in the strength, power, and autonomy of Diné women. The banners we make are never arbitrary. Asdzáá Tl’ógí or Juanita Manuelito was a powerful force in the historical struggle for Diné existence (and very much still so today through her descendants), she is a force that has been obscured by white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and colonialism. We have many lessons and understandings in our matriarchal knowledge systems that we wanted to carry with us as part of the message in our prayers and actions.