Save the Peaks! New Lawsuit Filed Against Forest Service
U.S. Government Ignores Public Health Dangers of Sewer Water Snowmaking
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 21, 2009
Concerned Citizens File New Lawsuit to Force Government to Study and Disclose Effects
of Ingesting Snow Made from Treated Sewage Effluent
Flagstaff, AZ — A group of concerned citizens will not let the potential health risks of using treated sewage effluent to make snow at the Snowbowl ski area on the San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff get swept under the rug on a technicality. Although Snowbowl is a private, for-profit entity, the ski area operates on federal land under a special use permit. As a result, the federal government must approve Snowbowl’s plan to use 100% reclaimed sewer water to make snow—something that is not done anywhere else in the world. The City of Flagstaff agreed to sell Snowbowl the treated sewage effluent and off they went, or so they thought. The San Francisco Peaks are well documented as sacred and holy to, at least, thirteen of the tribes in the Southwestern United States, all of whom viewed the decision as a direct threat to their religious and cultural survival. Litigation on cultural and religious issues surrounding the project was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently declined to consider the case. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case left a decision of an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in place which, as is often the case, went against the tribes. The use of reclaimed sewer water to make snow, however, was not only repulsive to people who hold the San Francisco Peaks sacred, it raised concerns from skiers and the community over the safety of being immersed in, and even eating, snow made from non-potable treated sewage effluent.
Today, the Save the Peaks Coalition and nine citizens filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against the U.S. Forest Service. The suit alleges, among other things, that the Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the U.S. Forest Service ignores the possibility of human ingestion of snow made from treated sewage effluent. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Forest Service is obligated to consider these types of potential impacts on the quality of the human environment. In fact, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit previously found that the Forest Service failed to adequately consider the possibility of human ingestion of snow made from treated sewage effluent. The holding of the three judge panel was, however, overturned on a technicality by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, that reconsidered the prior panel’s ruling.
According to Howard Shanker, attorney for the Save the Peaks Coalition and the other plaintiffs, “The Forest Service failed to adequately consider the impacts of potential human ingestion of snow made from reclaimed sewer water as required by applicable law. Our government should not be approving such projects without some sort of understanding of the anticipated impacts. By approving treated sewage effluent for snow making without adequate analysis, the government essentially turns the ski area into a test facility with our children as the laboratory rats. That is unconscionable.” Mr. Shanker, a former congressional candidate in Arizona Congressional District 1, represented a number of tribes and environmental organizations in prior litigation over Snowbowl’s use of treated sewage effluent.
According to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality regulations, treated sewer water can be graded A+ even when it contains fecal matter in three out of every ten samples. This same effluent has been found to contain pharmaceuticals, hormones, endocrine disruptors, industrial pollutants, and narcotics. It may also contain bio-accumulating antibiotics, such as triclosan and triclocarban, and pathogens, such as e. coli, hepatitis, and norovirus. The human and environmental health risks, which have been largely ignored by the media, have their roots as far back as 2001 in the scoping comments made to the Forest Service about Arizona Snowbowl’s proposed expansion and upgrade. Plaintiffs involved in this lawsuit have consistently insisted that the Forest Service take a hard look at what might happen to the people, land, plants, and wildlife when they come in contact with or eat snow made from treated sewage effluent.
For a full background, legal documents, photos, and further information on the Save the Peaks Coalition please visit www.savethepeaks.org
Ox Sam Camp Update: Land Defenders Arrested, Camp Raided After Blocking Excavator
From www.oxsam.org (follow for more updates).
Read the new press release from 6/8/23 here: https://www.indigenousaction.org/ox-sam-camp-raid-update-one-arrested-as-prayer-tipis-are-bulldozed-and-ceremonial-items-confiscated/
First arrests are underway and camp is being raided after land defenders halted an excavator this morning at Thacker Pass.
OROVADA, NV — This morning, a group of Native American water protectors and allies used their bodies to non-violently block construction of the controversial Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, turning back bulldozers and heavy equipment.
The dramatic scene unfolded this morning as workers attempting to dig trenches near Sentinel Rock were turned back by land defenders who ran and put their bodies between heavy equipment and the land.
Now they are being arrested and camp is being raided.
Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people consider Thacker Pass to be sacred. So when they learned that the area was slated to become the biggest open-pit lithium mine in North America, they filed lawsuits, organized rallies, spoke at regulatory hearings, and organized in the community. But despite all efforts over the last three years, construction of the mine began in March.
That’s what led Native American elders, friends and family, water protectors, and their allies to establish what they call a “prayer camp and ceremonial fire” at Thacker Pass on May 11th, when they setup a tipi at dawn blocking construction of a water pipeline for the mine. A second tipi was erected several days later two miles east, where Lithium Nevada’s construction is defacing Sentinel Rock, one of their most important sacred sites.
Sentinel Rock is integral to many Nevada Tribes’ worldview and ceremony. The area was the site of two massacres of Paiute and Shoshone people. The first was an inter-tribal conflict that gave the area it’s Paiute name: Peehee Mu’huh, or rotten moon. The second was a surprise attack by the US Cavalry on September 12th, 1865, during which the US Army slaughtered dozens. One of the only survivors of the attack was a man named Ox Sam. It is some of Ox Sam’s descendants, the Grandmas, that formed Ox Sam Newe Momokonee Nokotun (Indigenous Women’s Camp) to protect this sacred land for the unborn, to honor and protect the remains of their ancestors, and to conduct ceremonies. Water protectors have been on-site in prayer for nearly a month.
On Monday, Lithium Nevada Corporation also attempted to breach the space occupied by the water protectors. As workers maneuvered trenching equipment into a valley between the two tipis, water protectors approached the attempted work site and peacefully forced workers and their excavator to back up and leave the area. According to one anonymous land defender, Lithium Nevada’s action was “an attempted show of force to fully do away with our tipi and prayer camp around Sentinel Rock.”
Ranchers, recreationists, and members of the public have been allowed to pass without incident and water protectors maintain friendly relationships with locals. Opposition to the mine is widespread in the area, and despite repeated warnings from the local Sheriff, there have been no arrests. Four people, including Dorece Sam Antonio of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe (an Ox sam descendant) and Max Wilbert of Protect Thacker Pass, have been targeted by court orders barring them from the area. They await a court hearing in Humboldt County Justice Court.
“Lithium Nevada is fencing around the sacred site Sentinel Rock to disrupt our access and yesterday was an escalation to justify removal of our peaceful prayer camps,” said one anonymous water protector at Ox Sam Camp. “Lithium Nevada intends to desecrate and bulldoze the remains of the ancestors here. We are calling out to all water protectors, land defenders, attorneys, human rights experts, and representatives of Tribal Nations to come and stand with us.”
“I’m being threatened with arrest for protecting the graves of my ancestors,” says Dorece Sam Antonio. “My great-great Grandfather Ox Sam was one of the survivors of the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre that took place here. His family was killed right here as they ran away from the U.S. Army. They were never buried. They’re still here. And now these bulldozers are tearing up this place.”
Another spiritual leader on the front lines has been Dean Barlese, a spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Barlese led prayers at the site on April 25th (shutting down construction for a day) and returned on May 11th.
“I’m asking people to come to Peehee Mu’huh,” Barlese said. “We need more prayerful people. I’m here because I have connections to these places. My great-great-great grandfathers fought and shed blood in these lands. We’re defending the sacred. Water is sacred. Without water, there is no life. And one day, you’ll find out you can’t eat money.”
The 1865 Thacker Pass massacre is well documented in historical sources, books, newspapers, and oral histories. Despite the evidence but unsurprisingly, the Federal Government has not protected Thacker Pass or even slowed construction of the mine to allow for consultation to take place with Tribes. In late February, the Federal Government recognized tribal arguments that Thacker Pass is a “Traditional Cultural District” eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. But that didn’t stop construction from commencing.
“This is not a protest, it’s a prayer,” said Barlese. “But they’re still scared of me. They’re scared of all of us elders, because they know we’re right and they’re wrong.”
O’odham Executed by Border Patrol: Statement by Raymond Mattia Family
Raymond Mattia of the Tohono O’odham Nation was executed by US border patrol agents on May 18th at his home. He was reportedly shot 38 times.
A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border
Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from
For more information please visit: https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2023/05/us-border-patrol-shoots-tohono-oodham.html
Statement by Mattia Raymond’s family:
We have been trying to find the strength to write this statement. This tragedy is so
grievous because it is apparent what had happened. Raymond called for help and, in turn, was
shot down at his doorstep. Raymond’s rights were violated by the authorities whom we trust to
protect our Nation. Improper and unprofessional actions of the agencies involved were witnessed
by family members present near the crime scene. Loved ones sat in agony, not knowing of
Raymond’s condition until they were told that he had passed hours later. Raymond lay in front of
his home for seven hours before a coroner from Tucson arrived.
In our eyes and hearts, we believe that Raymond was approached with excessive and
deadly force that took his life. He was a father, brother, uncle, friend, and an involved
community member. Raymond always fought for what was right, and he will continue to fight
even after his death. This is not an isolated incident, but it should bring awareness of the
oppression our people live through.
We want to thank so many of you for your condolences and support. A GoFundMe for
defense funds will be available soon. A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from 10:00am-Noon.
Contact for support: email@example.com
People Take the Streets in Occupied Flagstaff to “Honor & Avenge” #MMIWG2ST
Brief report back filed by anonymous.
Occupied Kinłani, May 5, 2023 — Tonight a fierce crew held a vigil and rally then took to the streets of occupied Flagstaff on the national day of awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, and trans relatives. Family members and friends of Arielisa Bryant & Nicole Joe spoke about the injustices they had faced at the hands of law enforcement. Others shared their stories with five families speaking out about their missing or murdered relatives. Speakers connected the desecration of sacred sites as violence against the land being violence against our bodies. After a moment of silence (which was turned into a moment of rage), the group headed through the crowded streets. Intersections were held. A round dance was done. Chants echoed, “No More Stolen Sisters!” “No Justice No Peace, Fuck the Police!” and “Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!” while relatives of MMIWG2ST spoke. At one point the group stopped near where Vanessa Lee was found (2018) and created a memorial. After the action, the massive red dress banner that was carried through the streets was dropped.
This action came as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland prepares to hold a “Not Invisible Act Commission” hearing in Flagstaff on May 9th at a so far unannounced location with little community outreach. The commission is filled with cops, judges, and politicians who seek to further colonial policing and laws over Indigenous lands. Haaland is also complicit in allowing the Willow Project to proceed which furthers resource colonial violence that is directly linked to #MMIWG2ST.
A 2017 study from the Urban Indian Health Institute found that so-called Arizona has the third-highest number of #MMIWG2ST in the country.
That study reported a total of 506 known cases in 71 urban cities across the country and 54 cases were identified in Arizona.
Ariel Bryant, found deceased 2019 outside of Kinłani.
Vanessa Lee, found deceased 2018 in the Rio De Flag downtown Kinłani.
Nicole Joe, deceased on christmas day 2017, her ex was ultimately found guilty of second degree murder.
Loreal Tsingine, shot in 2016 five times by Winslow police officer Austin Shipley.
And all those missing and murdered relatives!
As you rest in power, we will rage!
Get updates via email, sign up here:
Indigenous Action Podcast
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 16: Fuck a Valentine, Indigenous Abolition Feminism
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 15: 15th Annual No Thanks, No Giving: Indigenous Anarchism
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 14: Queering #MMIWG2ST
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 13: Unsettling Climate Colonialism
- Ep. 12: Abolishing the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Commentary & Essays9 years ago
Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex
anti-colonial3 years ago
Voting is Not Harm Reduction – An Indigenous Perspective
Action1 year ago
Indigenous Hia Ced O’odham and Tohono O’odham Sacred Land & Water Protector, Amber Ortega, “Not Guilty” For Resistance to US/Mexico Border Wall Construction at Sacred Site
#nonukes13 years ago
Uranium Mining Begins Near Grand Canyon
Action10 years ago
#Idlenomore Knows No Borders!
anti-colonial3 years ago
Rethinking the Apocalypse: An Indigenous Anti-Futurist Manifesto
#nonukes6 years ago
Haul No! Tour Report Back Part 1
#policestate3 years ago
16 Things You Can Do To Be Ungovernable. P.S. Fuck Biden