1704 N. 2nd St. Occupied Lands, Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Controversial Legislation Supporting Peaks Desecration Proposed by Navajo Delegate, Hopi Tribe Protests

Snowbowl Pipeline Desecration

WINDOW ROCK, NAVAJO NATION — Navajo Council Delegate Walter Phelps (Cameron, Coalmine Canyon, Birdsprings, Leupp, Tolani Lake) has introduced Legislation 0420-11 “An Action Relating To Resources And Development And NAABIK’IYATI’; Supporting The Use Of Groundwater For Snowmaking On Dook’o’oosliid (San Francisco Peaks).” You can read the legislation here: http://www.navajonationcouncil.org/Legislations/2011/Oct/0420-11.pdf

The legislation was introduced on October 7th, over a 3-day weekend, with the comment deadline ending on Oct. 11th.

Below is my response and a press release from the Hopi Tribe.




RE: Navajo Nation Legislation 0420-11 – Supporting The Use Of Groundwater For Snowmaking On Dook’o’oosliid (San Francisco Peaks).


The Navajo Nation has previously taken very serious stands to protect the Holy San Francisco Peaks with numerous resolutions including one in 1998 calling for the dismantling of the ski area and litigation.
It would be contrary to all previous positions that the Navajo Nation has taken to now support use of groundwater for snowmaking on the Holy San Francisco Peaks.

The proposed legislation sends the message that desecration of Dook’o’oosliid is approved by the Navajo Nation.

Additionally, supporting groundwater snowmaking at this time would threaten to UNDERMINE two current legal cases; the Save the Peaks Coaltion v. Forest Service and the Hopi Tribe v. City of Flagstaff.
This is a serious consequence that the Navajo Nation should consider prior to any decisions regarding this proposed legislation.

The writers of this legislation did not consult or engage in dialogue with litigants, NGOs and individuals who have long been actively engaged in the issue.

At minimum the Navajo Nation Council should convene a meeting with these stakeholders prior to considering an action of this nature.

This proposed legislation further demonstrates that the sponsors and writers are out of touch with the grassroots people who have been working on this issue for more than a decade.
There are a number of alternative means that the Navajo Nation Council can use to effectively address desecration of Dook’o’oosliid that do not include supporting a piece of legislation that: 1. supports Snowbowl’s further desecration of Dook’o’oosliid. 2. undermines two current legal cases. 3. ignores and undermines grassroots work and strategies. 4. betrays previously held unified positions with other tribal entities.

Ahe’ hee’,
Klee Benally – Protect the Peaks Activist
Forest Lake Chapter


PRESS RELEASE: The Hopi Tribal Council Does Not Support Navajo’s Proposal to Use Groundwater for Snowmaking on Nuvatukyaovi

Public Information Office
Phone: (928) 734-3104
Fax: (928) 734-6665

October 11, 2011


Kykotsmovi, Ariz. – The Hopi Tribal Council does not join or support a recently proposed Navajo Nation Council Resolution recommending the use of groundwater for snowmaking on Nuvatukyaovi (the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff).


Navajo Nation Councilman Walter Phelps has introduced a bill that would have the Navajo Nation support the use of groundwater for snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks.


Water – regardless of its source – is a limited and critical natural resource in the Southwest and the Hopi Tribe continues to oppose any artificial snowmaking by these means.  As set forth in the Hopi Tribe’s complaint against the city of Flagstaff, the city is already using more than its fair share of water, and any plans to sell water to the Snowbowl will only worsen this problem.  In addition, the sale of water for snowmaking so that a select few can benefit, violates the public interest in wise water use for our region.


Nuvatukyaovi is an important, sacred place for the Hopi which holds a central and essential role in Hopi culture, traditions and way of life. The Hopi Tribe has tirelessly opposed the issuance of the Special Use Permit to the Arizona Snowbowl, which allows for the installation of artificial snowmaking equipment.  The Hopi Tribe has maintained unwavering opposition to any type of artificial snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks, whether from reclaimed wastewater, recovered reclaimed water or groundwater.  The only water appropriate for Nuvatukyaovi is natural water as provided by rain and snow, and there can be no exceptions.


The Navajo proposal is not a solution to the issues facing the tribes with respect to Arizona Snowbowl’s expansions on Nuvatukyaovi.  Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa affirms, “The Hopi Tribal Council, all known Hopi religious practitioners, the Hopi Tribe and its people are still, and always will be, opposed to the use of any snowmaking operations on Nuvatukyaovi.”


The Tribe continues to declare that the only solution is to prevent any and all artificial snowmaking on the Peaks and to void the contract between the city of Flagstaff and Arizona Snowbowl.


For more information on the Hopi Tribe visit www.hopi-nsn.gov.



Comments (3)

The Navajo Nation Tribal Council seems to be seeking a balance on this issue. Now that is a good thing. Avoiding propaganda and looking to rational solutions is always a good way for diplomacy. The forces that be created the end result of a volcanic core that
has no mountain springs to draw from. What can you do. As a Navajo snowboarder from Salt Lake City, Ut., I ‘ve had the great chance to ride this mtn. The ski area is relatively small and technically easy. On that day I did’nt see nary a native skier or rider.
It is a truly beautiful place, but why is it that in many ‘natural’ socieities and cultures, prominient mtns. and features are always deemed sacred and holy? Thanks.

I believe the use of groundwater is a very good compromise for artifical snowmaking.
How many days per ski season is it below 32 degrees around Flagstaff, AZ., the temp. needed to make snow. The LaPlata mtns. are the northern sacred mtns. of the Navajo. If you know your Dineh culture, you’ll know that most of the ceremonial songs and ceremonies “are derived” from this mountain. Today, the Purgatory Ski Resort is located on the East side of LaPlata near Durango, CO. but get their water for artifical snow naturally from Hesperus Peak. If development on sacred mtns. is the
the issue, why not any opposition to this?

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