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Court Decision Regarding Navajo Sacred Mountain

I blogged earlier about a dispute between the Navajo and other Native American groups in Arizona and the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area (Flagstaff). The Navajo and others went to court to try and stop the ski area from expanding the skiable terrain and from making snow with wastewater. Potential environmental issues were compounded by the fact the mountain in question is considered sacred.

A ruling in the case came down this week and it went against the Navajo. According to the Navajo Times, the native arguments failed because they failed to prove the ski area expansion would compromise the opportunities for religious practices and expression:

[The court] concluded that the project would affect a small portion of the mountain and would not prevent or interfere with Native American religious practices. The Snowbowl takes up 777 acres, less than one percent of the peaks’ land surface … The ruling does acknowledge the Navajo religious belief of the sacred mountain and its role as the home to several deities including White Corn Girl, White Corn Boy and Yellow Wind. However, Rosenblatt goes on to state that the Snowbowl expansion will have no effect on these beliefs.

The environmental and religious arguments against the project failed because not enough of the mountain is given over to skiing.

I’d like to read more about how certain areas of a sacred mountain are designated ‘religious’ or sacred and others aren’t. It likely has something to do with the desire of the courts to respect multiple uses (multiple worldviews) of the space.

(Thanks to an anthro friend on the Navajo Reservation for the head’s up on this.)

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2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] A press release on the Friends of Grassy Narrows’s website describes the Secwepemc (formerly Shuswap) protest at Sun Peaks Resort in the British Columbia interior. Included in the statement is concern over making snow for skiing from recycled water water. This is the second sacred sites protest against a ski resort using dirty water for snowmaking I’ve noted recently, after the continuing fight against Arizona Snowbowl (Flagstaff) and its development of San Francisco Peak in Arizona (also here). […]

  2. […] my earlier post regarding the original lower court decision. Trackback […]