CAMP VERDE-On Monday, March 12, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision to protect the sacred San Francisco Peaks from the U.S .Forest Service's approval for the Arizona Snowbowl plan to expand its 777-acres facility and implement the use of treated sewage to make artificial snow.
The San Francisco Peaks have long-standing religious significance to more than 13 federally recognized Indian tribes, including the Yavapai Apache. For them, the Peaks are referred to as Dzil-cho ("Big Mountain") in the Apache language and A'Wiih Moonih ("Cold Mountain") in the Yavapai language.
Universally, the Yavapai and Apache people are spiritually and traditionally affiliated to the San Francisco Peak region. Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairman Jamie Fullmer said, "We are proud to have been a part of this case and we are gratified to learn that the appeal has been won. The San Francisco Peaks or Dzil-cho is a sacred mountain to us as we testified during the appeals hearing. We are honored to know that our native voice is still heard." Fullmer added, "This decision by the Federal Appeals Court, tells us that even in the current environment of development at all costs, the United States appeals process stands for justice and the American justice system is capable of doing what is right when the facts are fully known."
Various tribal leaders, environmental advocates and representatives from Northern Arizona communities spoke about the monumental victory. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. stated, "I think this ultimately supports the perseveration of our way of life. I can't express how happy I am."
"This is not just a victory for our elders and tribal traditions, but a victory for all people of faith across the country. This confirms to us that when a few stand up for what is right, everybody benefits. The Yavapai-Apache Nation is very proud of the decision and we are appreciative of all of the Arizona Tribes that supported this process from beginning to end," said Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairman Jamie Fullmer.
For more information on the Yavapai-Apache, please visit www.yavapai-apache.org.