San Francisco Peaks hearing starts tomorrow

San Francisco Peaks hearing starts tomorrow

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John Ahni Schertow
December 10, 2007
 

Tomorrow, December 11th, a Federal Appeals Court in Pasadena will be hearing oral arguments for and against the violation of religious freedom, environmental destruction, and public health dangers associated with the use of treated sewage effluent for snowmaking in a proposed ski area development on Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks–a Mountain range held Sacred by more than 13 Indigenous Nations.

This is the sequel to the unanimous court decision made in March, explains IPS News, that ruled “the U.S. Forest Service had violated its own laws by not fully studying the impact of human contact with fake snow made from the treated sewage;” and also “determined that the development on the peak would substantially burden the American Indians’ religious practice.”

It should have been case-closed, but U.S. forest officials and the developers just couldn’t take no for an answer (no surprise there). Instead, they went to U.S. court of appeals–who in turn granted them the right to challenge and possibly reverse the March ruling.

It was a profound insult, to say the least. I mean, we might as well be talking about who owns a piece of cardboard. That seems to be the amount of weight Indigenous Customs and Traditions carry in the face of this needless development scheme. It’s a classic case of need vs. want.

Leading into the hearing, and marking the end of a week of education and protest, a coalition of tribal representatives, environmental groups, and others will be marching from the All Saints Church in Pasadena to the courthouse at 1:00pm. A prayer vigil will also be held outside the courthouse during the proceedings.

President of the Navajo Nation, Joe Shirley Jr., calls upon all those “who deeply respect our Mother Earth to join us in a ‘National and International Day of Prayer’ for our sacred mountain of the west, Doko’oosliid (The San Francisco Peaks).”

Afterward the hearing, the Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, Chairman of the Yavapai Apache Tribe, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council and other dignitaries, as well as representatives of Environmental Justice Groups, including the Sierra Club and Flagstaff Activist Network are scheduled to speak at a press conference.

Updates will follow but if you want more information, have a listen to the following radio interview, or visit: www.savethepeaks.org

Interview with Klee Benally (Save the Peaks Coalition) and Rudy Preston (Flagstaff Activist Network) on December 7. C/O uprising radio
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Precedent-Setting Legal Battle Brings Tribal Dignitaries, Religious Leaders & National Environmental Groups to Pasadena, CA Federal Court
Religious Freedom, Human Rights and Public Health at Risk

Pasadena, CA ‚ This Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 at 3:00pm, a Federal Appeals Court in Pasadena, California will hear oral arguments in a precedent-setting legal battle to prevent Religious Freedom violations, environmental destruction and public health dangers associated with the use of treated sewage effluent for snowmaking in proposed ski area development on Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks.

Tribal dignitaries and spiritual leaders as well as environmental groups will gather at the Pasadena Courthouse to attend proceedings in the case that will determine the fate of American Indian religious freedoms and challenge the Federal Government’s lack of responsibility to protect public health.

The Tribes, Environmental groups and religious leaders are unified in multiple lawsuits against the US Forest Service, which leases the public land to the private ski business and has approved the proposed development. The San Francisco Peaks are recognized internationally as a sacred site. The Peaks are a unique ecological island and are held holy by more than 13 Native American Nations.

On October 17th, 2007 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona ski resort the opportunity to challenge a previous unanimous decision by the court, which had blocked the ski area owner’s proposed development and treated sewage snowmaking on the sacred Peaks.

To signify the importance of this precedent-setting case, a coalition of tribal representatives, environmental groups, local community based organizations and concerned citizens will march from All Saints Church in Pasadena to the courthouse at 1:00pm.
A prayer vigil will be held outside the courthouse during the proceedings.

The Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, Chairman of the Yavapai Apache Tribe, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council and other dignitaries, as well as representatives of Environmental Justice Groups, including the Sierra Club and Flagstaff Activist Network will be present at the courthouse and are scheduled to speak at a press conference following the proceedings.

For more information visit: www.savethepeaks.org.

What: Appeals court hearing in precedent-setting legal battle against U.S. Forest Service. There will be a march, prayer vigil and rally before court proceedings, and a press conference with legal council, tribal leaders and environmental groups to follow.

Who: Coalition of Tribal Dignitaries and religious leaders, including the Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, Chairman of the Yavapai Apache Tribe, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council, as well as Environmental Justice Groups, including the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Flagstaff Activist Network.

When: Legal arguments to be heard on December 11th, 2007
12:30pm – 2 mile march starting from All Saints Church going down Colorado Blvd. towards the U.S. Court of Appeals.
1:40pm – March arrives at the U.S. Court of Appeals, vigil outside of courthouse.
3:00pm – Court proceedings begin.
5:00pm – Press conference outside of courthouse.

Where: U.S. Court of Appeals located at 125 S. Grand Ave. in Pasadena, CA.
March begins at All Saints Church located at 132 N. Euclid Ave. in Pasadena, CA.

Why: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently granted the U.S. Forest Service and an Arizona ski resort the opportunity to challenge a previous unanimous decision by the court, which had blocked development. The ruling had been hailed as a victory for Religious Freedom, Environmental Justice & Human Rights.

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