Flagstaff, AZ — Continuing it’s years-long desecration and assault on Indigenous Peoples’ ways of life, ecological destruction, and threats to public health, Arizona Snowbowl ski area opened with snow made from millions of gallons of 100% treated sewage today.
After being forced to delay its opening day twice due to lack of natural snowfall, the ski area opened one lift and one run to sparse attendance.
More than a dozen sacred sites protectors confronted Snowbowl employees and recreationists with a “quarantine” action in hazmat suits, with banners, caution tape, and chanting “No Desecration for Recreation.”
“This is a clear example of continued colonialism. What’s happening is Dook’o’oosłiid a sacred mountain to many Indigenous Peoples in this area, is being desecrated by this Snowbowl company,” stated Maile Hampton. “These capitalists continue to come in and tear down all the trees and build this snow resort. Not only build that, but they fill it with 100% reclaimed sewage water. Would you want someone to dump literal sewer water onto your church lawn? This mountain is a church for Indigenous people. This mountain is sacred. This cannot continue to happen. This company is literally desecrating this sacred mountain for pure profit and recreation. We will continue to stand up and do anything we can to draw attention to this issue and wipeout Snowball as a whole. BOYCOTT SNOWBOWL!”
“The amount of disrespect for the land, and all people who inhabit it, is disgusting. Speaking to employees and patrons of Snowbowl who showed that they only cared about recreation,” stated Mary Begay. “They were mocking us and being openly sexist and racist. Some patrons tried to eat the treated sewage effluent with pharmaceutical drugs and hormones in it to prove a point only to spit it out immediately in our direction. We were there in a prayerful way to stop this destruction and desecration of our water, of our ecosystems and of our humanity.”
“Snowbowl patrons don’t have the highest moral standard and they show no respect for those who wish to protest peacefully,” stated Scott Begay. “If the Snowbowl patrons showed this amount of disrespect on the opening day, I cannot imagine the rest of the year. Snowbowl allows and condones this vulgar display of colonialism, and something needs to be done about it.”
The action initially blocked a section of the ski run but was moved as law enforcement agents threatened arrest.
Six law enforcement vehicles followed the resisters as they made their way from the upper lot through a construction area where Snowbowl is furthering their violence against the mountain.
“This mountain is our church, Snowbowl’s opening today and the threat of arrest for ‘trespassing’ was another reminder that we do not have religious freedom as Indigenous Peoples in our own lands,” stated Klee Benally, a volunteer with Protect the Peaks. “Think about this with your families as you prepare to celebrate so-called ‘Thanks Giving’: the US Forest Service, Snowbowl, and City of Flagstaff are perpetuating the cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples for a few dollars.”
“We were there to try to stop the desecration of our Sacred mountain where our prayers and ceremonies are held,” stated Dustin Wero, “Being Diné, our instinct is defend the sacred.”
Snowbowl is the only ski area in the world to make snow from treated sewage.
“Even though I knew about the treated sewage used to make the snow at Snowbowl, I was shocked when I looked at the snow and saw this yellow tinge, I thought my eyes were deceiving me, or maybe a dog had peed in the snow.” stated Crystal Zevon, “But, I looked further, and sure enough, that snow has a yellow tint when the sun hits it. I grew up skiing in Colorado, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Snowbowl has long been controversial due to their presence on the San Francisco Peaks, which are held holy by more than 13 Indigenous Nations. The ski area operates under a special use permit on public lands managed by the US Forest Service. For decades they have been subject to multiple lawsuits that have shaped legal precedent for Indigenous religious freedom.
“The struggles to protect our sacred places and precious water are not over until our cultures are over. We will not allow that to happen,” stated Benally.
For more information: www.protectthepeaks.org