By Klee Benally
Flagstaff, AZ — On March 28, 2013, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made it very clear that he doesn’t care about Indigenous Peoples or public health. McCain would appear to be in the pocket of multimillionaire ski area owner and Scottsdale based real estate developer, Eric Borowsky.
In his statement, McCain intentionally omits the full story of the decades long struggle to protect the Holy San Francisco Peaks from Snowbowl expansion and sewage effluent snowmaking, including the facts that the case has gone up to the Supreme court and has been recognized nationally as a precedent impacting Indigenous People’s religious freedom (Navajo Nation v. United States Forest Service). Even the United Nations has begun to weigh in on the issue.
McCain’s statement is wrought with factually inaccuracies.
McCain: “After a long struggle with the federal government, snowmaking is finally working there, just as many of us anticipated.”
FACT: The Coconino National Forest Service approved treated sewage snowmaking in 2005 and defended its decision in court using tax -payer’s dollars.
The Federal Government in the form of the Coconino National Forest Service aggressively fought to insure Snowbowl could expand and make snow from treated sewage. Six Indigenous Nations and three environmental groups filed lawsuits against the U.S. Forest Service for allowing the Arizona Snowbowl to expand its operations and extend its season using artificial snowmaking.
From 2009-2010, the City of Flagstaff held secret meetings with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to find another, less controversial, source of water (which ended up only adding to the controversy). At that point USDA Secretary Vilsack sent a letter that announced he would not sign a permit to allow reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking at Snowbowl. Instead it will be from an “expanded” source. Snowbowl did not “struggle with the federal government,” – In fact, the ski resort owner worked alongside the USDA in hopes of receiving an 11 million dollar government subsidy and access to Flagstaff’s drinking water.
In 2009, McCain vowed to block Obama appointees to the USDA if wastewater snowmaking at Snowbowl wasn’t immediately approved.
McCain attempts to portray Snowbowl as a victim of the National Environmental Policy Act, “The federal government’s environmental studies of the project cost about $1 million with Arizona Snowbowl bearing the brunt of those costs.” Evidently McCain prefers that developers have their way with public lands without any environmental impact study.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement reveals:
“It is unrealistic to think that the Snowbowl would be a significant driver of tourism activity or the economy” – Coconino Forest Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement Page 3-121
“In contrast with a number of other ski resorts in the Rocky Mountain region, the Arizona Snowbowl is not a dominant driver of growth and the economy in its host community.” – Coconino Forest Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement Page 3-71
The ski area plan would “further contaminate the spiritual purity of the entire Peaks beyond the historic and existing levels.” Final Environmental Impact Statement Vol 1 Page 3-18
“Snowmaking and expansion of facilities, especially the use of reclaimed water, would contaminate the natural resources needed to perform the required ceremonies that have been, and continue to be, the basis for the cultural identity for many of these tribes.” -Final Environmental Impact Statement Vol 1 Page 3-18
“The proposed action would represent the highest degree of potential disproportionate adverse impact to Native American cultures.” – Final Environmental Impact Statement Vol 1 Page 3-370
McCain states, “During the season’s opening weeks, a thick base was laid on the slopes using about one-fifth of treated water made available by the City of Flagstaff.”
“…treated water” is one thing, treated sewage effluent is another.
Considering that the Forest Service, ADEQ & City of Flagstaff conducted no studies on human impacts if anyone were to consume the treated sewage snow, how responsible is that?
John McCain is also in the midst of wrestling the Navajo & Hopi Nations into waiving rights to the Little Colorado River: And he has authored multiple bills [SB1003, S1973-1] to expedite forced relocation of Dine’ families from their homes on Black Mesa.
McCain states, “I encourage all Arizonans to enjoy the remaining two weeks of this year’s snowmaking season at Arizona Snowbowl.” He is really calling for further desecration of the holy Peaks.
More info: www.protectthepeaks.org, www.truesnow.org
The Supreme Court Ruled Against Diné water rights. Surprised?
This is how resource colonialism operates.
Excerpts from Covid-19, Resource Colonialism & Indigenous Resistance by Klee Benally
Approximately 33% of Diné have no running water or electricity.
For 41 years coal mining operations on Black Mesa consumed 1.2 billion gallons a year of water from the Navajo aquifer beneath the area. Although the mines are now closed and the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) coal-fired power plant they fed is also shuttered, the impacts to health, the environment, and vital water sources in the area have been severe.
Since 1974 US congress has attempted to forcibly relocate Diné from this area.
The NGS project was initially established with the purpose of providing power to pump water to the massive metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson.
For decades, while powerlines criss-crossed over Diné family’s homes and water was pumped hundreds of miles away for swimming pools and golf courses, thousands of Diné went without running water and electricity.
Today there are currently more than 20,000 natural gas wells and thousands more proposed in and near the Navajo Nation in the San Juan Basin.
The US EPA identifies the San Juan Basin as “the most productive coalbed methane basin in North America.” In 2007 alone, corporations extracted 1.32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from the area, making it the largest source in the United States.
Halliburton, who “pioneered” hydraulic fracturing in 1947, has initiated “refracturing” of wells in the area. Fracking also wastes and pollutes an extreme amount of water. A single coalbed methane well can use up to 350,000 gallons, while a single horizontal shale well can use up to 10 million gallons of water.
The Navajo Nation government supports these leases including around the sacred area of Chaco Canyon.
The San Juan Basin is also viewed as “the most prolific producer of uranium in the United States.”
In 1979 the single largest accidental release of radioactivity occurred on Diné Bikéyah at the Church Rock uranium mill. More than more than 1,100 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive tailings poured into the Puerco River when an earthen dam broke. Today, water in the downstream community of “Sanders, Arizona” is poisoned with radioactive contamination from the spill.
There are more than 2,000 estimated toxic abandoned uranium mines on & around the Navajo Nation. Twenty-two wells that provide water for more than 50,000 Diné have been closed by the EPA due to high levels of radioactive contamination.
There has never been a comprehensive human health study on the impacts of uranium mining in the area.
In 2015 the EPA accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of toxic waste from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River. The toxic spill flowed throughout Diné communities polluting the “San Juan” river which many Diné farmers rely on. Crops were spoiled that year. As a measure of relief for the water crisis, the EPA initially sent rinsed out fracking barrels.
Diné have been fighting on multiple fronts against the US & our own colonially imposed government for generations to defend the sacred.
While some celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision on ICWA as an affirmation of “Tribal sovereignty” we knew that the colonizer’s justice only serves to further colonial power.
If capitalism & colonialism got us into this mess, it won’t get us out of it. When we stop begging politicians for change and expecting voting or anything to change a system that is anti-Earth and anti-Indigenous by design, then we’ll be moving towards liberation.
Recall when the vice president of the World Bank stated that “the wars of the next century will be fought over water.” There are consequences for waging war against another Earth & it’s only going to get a whole lot worse. Respect existence or expect resistance.
Read the full piece here: https://www.indigenousaction.org/covid-19-resource-colonialism-indigenous-resistance/
Support autonomous Diné water projects!
Tó Nizhóní Ání: www.tonizhoniani.org
DINE’ LAND & WATER: facebook.com/dinelandnwater
(beware the large non-profit$)
ALERT: Imminent Uranium Mining Threat at Grand Canyon – Haul No!
Underground blasting & above ground work has begun at Pinyon Plain/Canyon Mine, just miles from the Grand Canyon.
Workers are readying to start mining uranium at the mine. According to the Forest Service, workers are blasting daily though no ore is being moved yet. Once Energy Fuels starts hauling out radioactive ore, they plan to haul 30 tons per day through Northern Arizona to the company’s processing mill 300 miles away.
The Grand Canyon, sacred site Red Butte, precious water, and communities along the haul route are in danger!
As all legal options have failed, we need you to join us to stand up and stop this nuclear catastrophe from permanently poisoning our communities!
Join our telegram channel to connect for actions and support: https://t.me/haulno
For more info & to donate for legal defense: www.haulno.com
Pinyon Plain/Canyon Mine Haul Route Facts:
* Total distance of 300 miles.
* 12 trucks with capacity to haul up to 30 tons of highly radioactive ore per day.
* Truck loads to be covered with thin tarps, the only shielding from uranium and only protection from environmental contamination.
* Proposed route will go through high population areas such as Valle, Williams, and Flagstaff; as well as through rural Navajo reservation communities including Cameron, Tuba City, and Kayenta; near the Hopi reservation, and finally arrive at Energy Fuel’s White Mesa Mill only three miles from the Ute Mountain Ute tribal community of White Mesa, Utah.
The Intercept and Grist begin release of 50,000 TigerSwan spy documents
Article by Brenda Norrell, Censored News
Reprinted with permission.
April 14, 2023
The Intercept and Grist began releasing new TigerSwan spy documents in new coverage of the mercenaries hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline. They now have 50,000 TigerSwan spy documents, and another 9,000 are held up in the court battle for now. The documents reveal TigerSwan spying on Water Protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota, Bold Iowa, and at other locations.
The article follows an expensive court battle by The Intercept seeking the release of the documents. The North Dakota Supreme Court ordered the release after TigerSwan was found operating without a license in North Dakota.
“The released documents provide startling new details about how TigerSwan used social media monitoring, aerial surveillance, radio eavesdropping, undercover personnel, and subscription-based records databases to build watchlists and dossiers on Indigenous activists and environmental organizations,” The Intercept writes. Read the article at The Intercept: https://theintercept.com/2023/04/13/standing-rock-tigerswan-protests/
Paiute journalist, drone activist and filmmaker Myron Dewey was among those that TigerSwan spied on and stalked at Standing Rock 2016-2017, as revealed in the new documents that were ordered released by the court.
On Tuesday, the driver that killed Myron Dewey on an isolated road near his family’s home in Yomba, Nevada, entered a surprise plea bargain deal that was cut with a new prosecutor assigned to the case in Nye County, Nevada. John Walsh pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of vehicular manslaughter.
This TigerSwan spy document, showing TigerSwan stalking Myron Dewey and Prolific the Rapper at Standing Rock on Dec. 17, 2016, is from the new documents at The Intercept. Document link: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23773105-tigerswan-document-daily-intelligence-update-20161217
Below: From the TigerSwan spy files just released: The power of the global movement, with its heart in Standing Rock.
Below: The first flood of documents show how rattled DAPL was over the involvement of celebrities, the Standing Rock Chairman at the United Nations, Bernie Sanders, the Palestinian flag flying, and big orgs. The doc is from a pitch that TigerSwan made for more work, hustling another pipeline to spy on resistance.
|Above: TigerSwan surveillance used drones and helicopters.https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23773104-tigerswan-document-daily-intelligence-update-20161014|
Above: TigerSwan spy file at Bold Iowa. The mercenaries hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline called Bold Iowa Water Protectors “belligerents.” Document link:
TigerSwan spied on, and stalked the media, including Paiute journalist Myron Dewey, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, and myself, publisher of Censored News, as revealed in the newly released documents by The Intercept and Grist. TigerSwan used its surveillance on the media in its pitches for more spy work to other oil and pipeline companies.
TigerSwan turned its surveillance at Standing Rock into a potential money maker, using it for powerpoints in its pitches to other oil and pipeline companies for spy work.
TigerSwan even stalked the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in its high-stakes spying for dollars.
TigerSwan’s Opposition Model, shown below, was used as a potential maker in PowerPoints to other oil and pipeline companies.
The Intercept described the battle for these documents.
“A discovery request filed as part of the case forced thousands of new internal TigerSwan documents into the public record. Energy Transfer’s lawyers fought for nearly two years to keep the documents secret, until North Dakota’s Supreme Court ruled in 2022 that the material falls under the state’s open records statute,” The Intercept said.
“Because an arrangement between North Dakota and Energy Transfer allows the fossil fuel company to weigh in on which documents should be redacted, the state has yet to release over 9,000 disputed pages containing material that Energy Transfer is, for now at least, fighting to keep out of the public eye.”
TigerSwan spy documents on Water Protectors
Note: The documents show that TigerSwan spied on Censored News, as shown in today’s article at The Intercept.
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