WINDOW ROCK-In light of the recent court ruling that prohibited a Flagstaff ski resort from using treated wastewater to make artificial snow on the San Francisco Peaks, Navajo Nation Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan (Iyanbito/Pinedale) is encouraging the Navajo people to visit and connect with their spiritual Four Sacred Mountains. These mountains define the Navajo Nation boundaries in each of the four directions.
The Navajo Sacred Mountains are; Mount Blanca (known as Tsisnaasjini' or "White Shell Mountain") to the east near Alamosa in the San Luis Valley, Colo.; Mount Taylor (known as Tsoodzil or "Turquoise") to the south, located near Grants, N.M.; the San Francisco Peaks (known as Doko'oosliid or "Abalone Shell Mountain") to the west, near Flagstaff, and Hesperus Mountain (known as Dibe' Nitsaa or "Obsidian Mountain"), the sacred mountain north of the La Plata Mountains, Colo.
Being connecting to the Navajo sacred mountains is central to the Navajo worldview, according to Speaker Morgan who traveled to Prescott, Phoenix and San Francisco, Calif. in an effort to help defend the sacredness of the San Francisco Peaks in the federal court system.
Speaker Morgan said he along with staff members, council delegates and members of the judicial committee traveled to support and advocate for the Navajo reverence for the Peaks.
He said last Monday's federal appeals court decision is excellent for all 13 Southwest tribes in the region, and agreed that the use of reclaimed water to make artificial snow on the San Francisco Peaks violates the Native American tribes' religious freedom.
He added that each tribe has considered the San Francisco Peaks a sacred place since the beginning of mankind. Each sacred mountain is home to various supernatural beings, medicinal herbs and is a place of healing.
Judge Fletcher of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a January 2006 ruling by District Court Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt. Arguments were presented last year.
The tribes who successfully fought in court illustrated to Judge Fletcher that using reclaimed water for artificial snow at the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort would pollute the San Francisco Peaks. The tribes successfully educated Judge Fletcher that the mountain would become polluted, and, ultimately, violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). They further argued that the use of reclaimed water would not comply with safety standard as prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
"Take the time to visit them and do your offering," Speaker Morgan said. "Know the sacred places, I realize we are losing touch with the Sacred Mountains. It is crucial that we develop a real awareness of our spiritual connection to the Four Sacred Mountains as Navajos."
Speaker Morgan said that when we clearly recognize this reality, and ground ourselves in visiting the Four Sacred Mountains, we are compelled to have reverence for the Navajo way-of-life.