Written by Klee Benally and MT Garcia
FLAGSTAFF, AZ — On Tuesday, February 1, a dozen people including students and community members gathered at Northern Arizona University to protest the college’s partnership with a telescope development located on a sacred site.
NAU is listed on the telescope project’s website as a “project partner” along with University of Arizona and Arizona State University at 25% of the development’s partnership.
Mount Graham, located near Tucson, Arizona, is holy to San Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache, Pascua Yaqui, Chiracahua and other Indigenous Nations who have struggled for years to stop the development with support of environmental groups.
The protest started at 5pm on the corner of Butler and Milton. The demonstrators held banners that read, “Stop desecration and extinction on Mount Graham,” and “Protect sacred sites, defend human rights.”
At the Highcountry conference center parking garage, a banner was dropped that read, “NAU off Mount Graham, protect sacred places”.
At 6pm the group started marching to Ardry Auditorium where it planned to support prominent Indigenous activist and author, Winona LaDuke’s speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day. On the way to the Auditorium, the protesters marched and chanted through the Union surprising NAU students.
The march grew to more than 30 people, who at times took to the streets and were chanting, “NAU off Mount Graham,” and connecting the struggle to protect the San Francisco Peaks with “Save the Peaks, save Mount Graham.”
“This is an issue of Indigenous People’s religious freedom and protection of sacred places. We’re here to address NAU’s complicity in desecrating a very sacred site.” said Bobby Lynn, a student at NAU who was part of the protest and march, “NAU should know better than to partner with the Mount Graham telescope. Here in Northern Arizona, Snowbowl ski area is attempting to further it’s desecration by expanding and making snow from treated sewage. This issue has divided our community and caused so much harm. We are in solidarity with those struggling to protect Mount Graham!” said Lynn.
Winona LaDuke urged everyone in attendance to “deconstruct empire” and addressed issues in Arizona, such as the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, Mount Graham telescope, uranium mining, and copper mining. “I wanna encourage you all, to do good work, to make things better. I want to encourage you, whether it is the uranium mining at the Grand Canyon, leave it in the ground. Whether it is the Snowbowl. Whether it’s the copper mining, and the sacred lands of the Apache or the telescope project that this University here became complicity in. Its time to say no.”
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
Contact NAU President Haeger and urge him to respect the Apache, to save the Mount
Graham red squirrel and to get NAU out of the Mount Graham telescope project.
Phone: (928) 523-3232